Title: The Language of Empathy: An Analysis of Its Constitution, Development, and Role in Psychoanalytic Listening
Author: Anna Aragno
Abstract: Viewed from an epistemological perspective, empathy in psychoanalytic practice is described as that aspect of a specialized attentional stance that opens channels of interaction facilitating the formation of a trusting bond and enabling one to gain access to the emotional qualities of another’s experience. A literature overview traces the origins of the concept in Freud and its role in psychoanalytic listening (including its controversial, divisive evolution in our field). Empathy is then examined from a semiotic-developmental framework. Its constitutional origins, differentiated forms, and distinctive purpose in clinical discourse are discussed. A developmental line is proposed, and clear distinctions are drawn between empathy in everyday life and its specialized technical application in clinical work.