Publication details [#11134]

Vivona, Jeanine M. 2006. From developmental metaphor to developmental model: The shrinking role of language in the talking cure. 26 pp. URL


Psychoanalysts have invoked infant development diversely to understand nonverbal and unspoken aspects of lived experience. Two uses of developmental notions and their implications for understanding language and the therapeutic action of psychoanalysis are juxtaposed here: Hans Loewald's conception of developmental metaphors to illuminate ineffable aspects of the clinical situation and Daniel Stern's currently popular developmental model, which draws on findings from quantitative research to explain therapeutic action in the nonverbal realm. Loewald's metaphorical use of early development identifies and thus potentiates a central role for language in psychoanalytic treatment. By contrast, Stern and his colleagues exaggerate the abstract, orderly, and disembodied qualities of language, and consequently underestimate the degree to which lived interpersonal experience can be meaningfully verbalized, as demonstrated here with illustrations from published clinical material. As contemporary psychoanalysis moves toward embracing developmental models such as Stern's, it is concluded, psychoanalysts accept a shrinking role for language in the talking cure. (Jeanine Vivona)