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Nobre, A. (2015). Psychoanalysis and the power of deconstruction-reconstruction of symbolic, semiotic, and existential life experiences—the talking cure in severe trauma. MindConsiliums, 15(7), 1-18.

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Presented at the XVIII International Forum of Psychoanalysis of the International Federation of Psychoanalytic Societies (IFPS) in Kaunas, Lithuania; September 17-19, 2014.

First published (in Portuguese) in Revista Portuguesa de Psicanálise e Psicoterapia Psicanalítica (Portuguese Journal of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy) of the corresponding national association. Permission to publish this in English was obtained by the author. No conflicts of interests apply.

Abstract

The linear approach to reality that supports the division of human existence into “have(s) and have-not(s),” as any dichotomy, enables simplification and the perceived expectation of control which, in turn, leads to the organization of solutions to these black-and-white problems.

This reductive approach has some advantages, but it blocks the way to an alternative, which accepts the risks of an open system approach. This alternative approach may focus on complexity and not on problem solving quick-fixes. The key issue is that while partial and local solutions may be searched for and used, simultaneously, their intrinsic limitations are constantly being questioned. This implies that their frailties may be dealt with through continuous openness to better answers and to greater degrees of understanding.

Meaning-making, symbolic reasoning and open interpretation are examples of approaches that characterize a human being’s capacity to question and to inquire. That may be seriously limited through the experience of severe traumatic events. Trauma leads to closure and to the interruption of the natural developmental processes of mental growth. Psychoanalysis offers powerful theoretical and therapeutic insights that have opened the ground for intervention in these cases. This intervention is complex in itself, and the workings of the talking cure may be better understood through their impact at symbolic, semiotic and existential levels of life as it is experienced, both by the patient and by the psychoanalyst.

The present paper addresses these processes and argues that relational psychoanalysis, which is centred on the dynamic experiences on the analytic pair, are crucial both to understand the power of psychoanalysis and to understand the process of this cathartic healing talking cure itself.

Keywords: mental growth, development, trauma, psychoanalytic cure, symbolic reasoning, semiotics, existentialism, relational psychoanalysis.

About The Author

Ângela Lacerda Nobre

Ângela Lacerda Nobre, born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1960, has a diversified academic background which includes nursing, economics, philosophy, semiotics, and psychoanalysis.

Ângela Lacerda Nobre teaches at the Escola Superior de Ciências Empresariais do Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal, a business school in Portugal, since 1998. Her PhD (2010) is in Organisational Learning, and the title of her dissertation was: “Semiotic Learning: A Conceptual Framework for Facilitating Learning in Knowledge-intensive Organisations.”

Ângela Lacerda Nobre has published multiple academic articles and book chapters; and has posted educational videos and personal narratives and interviews on Youtube, at Agere Research 2012 ALNobre.

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Contact the author at lacerda.nobre@gmail.com or angela.nobre@esce.ips.pt