A poetics of change

Russell Meares*, David Butt, Caroline Henderson-Brooks, Hany Samir

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    The progress of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy depends on our capacity to study, in a scientific manner, the process of therapy. Since a study of this kind involves charting the waxing and waning of something as elusive as the sense of personal existence, the task has, in the past, been seen as virtually impossible. However, words, or more particularly, the way words are used, manifest such shifting states. Sophisticated linguistic analyses are available, providing the means to conduct these necessary studies. This article suggests that an ongoing sense of personal existence, which William James called "self," is multilayered, in the manner of the poetic, and that indices of such layering will reflect beneficial change. The description of this zone of experience, which might be called the synchronic, depends on contributions from Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Henri Bergson, and Ferdinand de Saussure. An illustration of the value of a consideration of the minute particulars of the therapeutic conversation is given by means of extracts from therapy sessions seven months apart.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)661-680
    Number of pages20
    JournalPsychoanalytic Dialogues
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2005


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