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French: communication
Modern Linguistics

Most theories of communication -- offered by modern linguistics -- are characterised by two important features.

  1. Firstly, they usually involve a reference to the category of intentionality, which is conceived of as coterminuous with consciousness.
  2. Secondly, they represent communication as a simple process in which a message is sent by one person (the addresser) to another (the addressee).[1]
Psychoanalytic Treament

However, both these features are put into question by the specific experience of communication in psychoanalytic treatment.

  1. Firstly, speech is revealed to possess an intentionality that goes beyond conscious purpose.
  2. Secondly, the speaker's message is seen to be not merely directed at another but also at himself.

"In human speech the sender is always a receiver at the same time."[2]

Unconscious Message

Putting these two points together, it can be said that the part of the speaker's message which is addressed to himself is the unconscious intention behind the message. When speaking to the analyst, the analysand is also addressing a message to himself, but is not aware of this.

Analytic Communication

The task of the analyst is to enable the analysand to hear the message he is unconsciously addressing to himself by interpreting the analysand's words, the analyst permits the analysand's message to return to him in its true, unconscious dimension.

Hence Lacan defines analytic communication as the act whereby "the sender receives his own message from the receiver in an inverted form."[3]

See Also


  1. Jakobson, Roman. (1960) "Linguistics and poetics," in Selected Writings, vol. II, Poetry of Grammar and Grammar of Poetry, The Hague: Mouton, 1981, p. 21
  2. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book III. The Psychoses, 1955-56. Trans. Russell Grigg. London: Routledge, 1993. p. 24
  3. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p. 41