Poetics, pragmatics, schematics, and the psychoanalysis-research dialogue (Rift)

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22 Scopus citations


In this paper I propose a conceptual platform for a constructive dialogue between psychoanalysis and empirical research, and away from the rift between the two. Predicated upon existential philosophy, psychology, and psychoanalysis, this platform is based on a realization that any clinical encounter is 'spoken' through three languages: Pragmatics, poetics, and schematics. Pragmatics pertains to the language of everyday occurrences inthe-world ('I fought with my wife last night'). Poetics is used by the (psychoanalytic) therapeutic community, as well as by therapeutic dyads, to capture, often metaphorically, the enormity of the human situation ('he raged against his wife's refusal to serve as a selfobject'). Schematics refers to the language of hypothesis testing, inductive and deductive reasoning, and empirical science ('this marital dynamic activates the patient's narcissistic vulnerability, leading to agitated depression and possibly to suicidality. I should assess risk'). All three languages are crucial to the clinical endeavour. Psychoanalysis, broadly defined, is the therapeutic school best suited for speaking the three.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-328
Number of pages14
JournalPsychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2010


  • Poetics
  • Pragmatics
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Research
  • Schematics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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