To talk about psychoanalysis as poetry is risky; it might even be considered inappropriate, reckless and outright dangerous. To be clear, I do not intend to talk about how psychoanalysis may be employed to interpret poetry, even less about how certain poets have taken inspiration from psychoanalysis, but about how psychoanalytic theory and practice, and especially its Lacanian modality, is inflected and refracted by poetry. More specifically, I intend to argue that psychoanalytic knowledge should embrace the richly evocative playfulness of the ars poetica, which celebrates the polyphonic musicality of language whilst simultaneously adhering to specific formal structures and metrical patterns, in order to stay attuned to the uniquely human subjective truth from which it derives its raison d’être. To develop such an argument is fraught with danger, partly because it appears to be in flagrant violation of Freud’s lifelong aspiration to secure the recognition of psychoanalysis as a proper science, partly because it may seem to undermine contemporary attempts at rehabilitating the clinical practice of psychoanalysis as an effective, evidence-based treatment for various mental health problems, partly because it may result in psychoanalysis attracting public ridicule, partly because it will no doubt be received as playing into the hands of all those who have been claiming for years that psychoanalysis firmly belongs in the arts and humanities, and that psychoanalysts (Freud included) are first and foremost creative writers, argonauts of the literary mind, dreamers with an eye for a show. The danger is not imaginary. The risk is real. Yet I firmly believe that in ignoring the poetic dimension of their work psychoanalysts are running a much bigger risk than losing their scientific credibility and their professional legitimacy. For in failing to appreciate how much their discipline owes to literary craft and poetic artistry they are fundamentally at risk of losing their soul. In my paper, I will develop the argument of ‘psychoanalysis as poetry’ along three distinct lines: the end of analysis, the status of psychoanalytic knowledge, and the position of the analyst.

Dany Nobus, PhD
Friday Nov 18, 2016
Time: 1:00-4:00 PM
Location: California Institute for Integral Studies, 1453 Mission, San Francisco
Fee: $100, $40 for students