Authority as paradox: The transformations of Don Quijote

Beatriz Priel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The author's contention is that the analysand's temporary attribution of authority to the analyst is inherent in the analytic situation; this is seen as a transitional and paradoxical form of authority pertaining neither to internal nor external reality, but dwelling in the analytic third. The author proposes a conceptualization of psychoanalytic authority as a form of aesthetic authority according to Gadamer's definitions. While the scientific and hermeneutic codes for the understanding of authority in psychoanalysis assume that the main issue at stake is the delimitation of the objectivity or the subjectivity of the analyst's knowledge, this aesthetic perspective centres on the analysand's attribution of a claim of truth to analytic interpretations, and on the experience of recognition. The experience of recognition of a possible truth is particular and context-bound, as well as self-transformational. A reading of three episodes from Cervantes's The history of Don Quixote de la Mancha illuminates the transitional and paradoxical character of aesthetic authority within a transformational dialogue. These episodes are read as dramatizations of different positions vis-à-vis the paradoxical authority that characterizes transformational dialogues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1675-1689
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Psychoanalysis
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2006


  • Aesthetic experience
  • Analytic authority
  • Analytic third
  • Don Quijote
  • Don Quixote
  • Transitional phenomena

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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