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Language and Visuality of the Mentally Ill

Language and Visuality of the Mentally Ill In the present paper we argue that Sigmund Freud's analysis of mental disorders is based almost exclusively on language and thus it omits other semiotic modalities, prominently visuality. Freud's psychoanalytical theory originates in the discovery that the speech of mentally ill patients is a basis for their treatment. A psychoanalyst is an interpreter who “translates” patient's speech into expression of original, suppressed thoughts. However, this analytical process was never applicable on psychotic patients, since their speech and thought processes are often distorted. This insistence on language can be limiting. Patients can produce “material” for interpretation not only in a form of language, but for instance in a form of visuality. In this respect, art brut, the visual art of the mentally ill, can be analyzed. But in order to do so, we have to reconsider Freud's original concept of translation of one level of signs (neurotic symptoms) into another (basis of the neurosis). An analysis of visual art of the mentally ill can rather focus on the relations between specific signs of the painting in order to understand how psychosis works. The paper provides general remarks and examples of such an analysis. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies Wiley

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
ISSN
1742-3341
eISSN
1556-9187
DOI
10.1002/aps.1477
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In the present paper we argue that Sigmund Freud's analysis of mental disorders is based almost exclusively on language and thus it omits other semiotic modalities, prominently visuality. Freud's psychoanalytical theory originates in the discovery that the speech of mentally ill patients is a basis for their treatment. A psychoanalyst is an interpreter who “translates” patient's speech into expression of original, suppressed thoughts. However, this analytical process was never applicable on psychotic patients, since their speech and thought processes are often distorted. This insistence on language can be limiting. Patients can produce “material” for interpretation not only in a form of language, but for instance in a form of visuality. In this respect, art brut, the visual art of the mentally ill, can be analyzed. But in order to do so, we have to reconsider Freud's original concept of translation of one level of signs (neurotic symptoms) into another (basis of the neurosis). An analysis of visual art of the mentally ill can rather focus on the relations between specific signs of the painting in order to understand how psychosis works. The paper provides general remarks and examples of such an analysis. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Journal

International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic StudiesWiley

Published: Dec 1, 2016

References