Title: Psychoanalysis as Poetry
Author: Jeanine M. Vivona
Like psychoanalysis, poetry is possible because of the nature of verbal language, particularly its potentials to evoke the sensations of lived experience. These potentials are vestiges of the personal relational context in which language is learned, without which there would be no poetry and no psychoanalysis. Such a view of language infuses psychoanalytic writings on poetry, yet has not been fully elaborated. To further that elaboration, a poem by Billy Collins is presented to illustrate the sensorial and imagistic potentials of words, after which the interpersonal processes of language development are explored in an attempt to elucidate the original nature of words as imbued with personal meaning, embodied resonance, and emotion. This view of language and the verbal form allows a fuller understanding of the therapeutic processes of speech and conversation at the heart of psychoanalysis, including the relational potentials of speech between present individuals, which are beyond the reach of poetry. In one sense, the work of the analyst is to create language that mobilizes the experiential, memorial, and relational potentials of words, and in so doing to make a poet out of the patient so that she too can create such language.