Calendar of Events

Interpretation as Poetry

Austen Riggs Center

25 Main St Large Conference Room
Stockbridge 01262
April 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Friday Night Guest Lecture

Jeanine M. Vivona, Ph.D. is Professor and Chair of Psychology at The College of New Jersey, and adjunct clinical faculty at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. She maintains a private practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy and supervision near Philadelphia. She is a member of the Editorial Boards of The Psychoanalytic Quarterly and Psychoanalytic Inquiry. Two of her papers have been awarded The JAPA Prize, her 2006 article, “From Developmental Metaphor to Developmental Model: The Shrinking Role of Language in the Talking Cure” and her 2012 article, “Is There a Nonverbal Period of Development?” She is currently working on a book, which identifies early, profound contributions of language for infant development and explores its implications for understandings of the nature of language and the therapeutic action of psychoanalysis. The book will be published by Routledge as part of the Psychoanalysis in a New Key series, edited by Donnel Stern. Her Friday Night Lecture is part of that work.

Dr. Vivona uses poetry to explore the potentials of verbal language that contribute to the therapeutic action of psychoanalytic treatments. Like psychoanalysis, poetry is possible because of the nature of verbal language, particularly its potentials to evoke the sensations of lived experience. These potentials, without which there would be no poetry and no psychoanalysis, are vestiges of the personal relational context in which language is originally learned. Such a view of language infuses psychoanalytic writings on poetry, yet has not been fully elaborated. Dr. Vivona attempts that elaboration in this paper. We begin by reading and reflecting on a poem by Billy Collins to illustrate the sensorial and imagistic potentials of words. Then Dr. Vivona explores the interpersonal processes of language development in an attempt to elucidate the original nature of words as imbued with personal meaning, embodied resonance, and emotion. Illustrating the clinical implications of this conceptualization of language, Dr. Vivona argues that 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.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES - At the conclusion of the event the participants will be able to:

1. Describe the potentials of words to evoke the sensations of lived experience.
2. Associate the evocative potentials of words with the processes of language development during infancy.
3. Apply this broader conceptualization of language in their clinical work.

This presentation is designed for mental health professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, with no regular registration fee.


No registration required. For more information contact Alicia Zaludova at 413-931-5230.

2 hours
Intended Audience: