Shifting the perspective after the patient's response to an interpretation.

Research paper by Anssi A Peräkylä

Indexed on: 08 Dec '10Published on: 08 Dec '10Published in: The International Journal of Psychoanalysis


Psychoanalytic interpretation is normally understood as a sequence of two utterances: the analyst gives an interpretation and the patient responds to it. This paper suggests that, in the interpretative sequence, there is also a third utterance where psychoanalytic work takes place. This third interpretative turn involves the analyst's action after the patient's response to the interpretation. Using conversation analysis as method in the examination of audio-recorded psychoanalytic sessions, the paper will explicate the psychoanalytic work that gets done in third interpretative turns. Through it, the analyst takes a stance towards the patient's understandings of the interpretation, which are shown in the patient's response to the interpretation. The third interpretative turns on one hand ratify and accept the patient's understandings, but, in addition to that, they also introduce a shift of perspective relative to them. In most cases, the shift of perspective is implicit but sometimes it is made explicit. The shifts of perspective bring to the foreground aspects or implications of the interpretation that were not incorporated in the patient's response. They recast the description of the patient's experience by showing new layers or more emotional intensity in it. The results are discussed in the light of Faimberg's concept of listening to listening and Schlesinger's concept of follow-up interpretation.