The therapeutic effect of inexact interpretation : a contribution to the theory of suggestion : October 1931 : Edward Glover

by Julia Evans on October 1, 1931

Published in The International Journal of Psycho–Analysis Vol XII, October 1931, Part 4

Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net /authors a-z or authors by date (1931)

Reference to Freud

Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego : 1921 : Sigmund Freud : published by www.Freud2Lacan.com : available here

Engagement by Jacques Lacan:

This paper was commented on by Jacques Lacan in Seminar V, The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis : 26th September 1953, The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power : 13th July 1958 and Seminar XIV. Lacan’s comments address the problem of the therapeutic effects of inexact interpretationLinks and quotes are given below.

The following is edited from

HOw SIgnIfICAnT IS THE COnCEPT Of InEXACT InTERPRETATIOn fOR THE PSyCHOAnALyTIC CLInIC? : 13th June 2015 : by Monika Kobylarska : Available here

Seminar V : 18th June 1958

Jacques Lacan described Edward Glover’s article The Therapeutic Effect of Inexact Interpretation: A Contribution to the Theory of Suggestion as ‘one of the most remarkable and most intelligent articles which could be written on such a subject’, and in which he added that ‘it is really in fact the starting base from which the question of interpretation can be approached.’

Seminar V : 18th June 1958 : p339 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation. See Seminar V : The Formations of the Unconscious : 1957-1958 : begins 6th November 1957 : Jacques Lacan or here for further information.

The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953

He agrees with Glover that non-analytic approaches

can have the precise impact of interventions that could be qualified as obsessive systems of suggestion, as hysterical suggestions of a phobic nature, and even as persecutory supports (…) For not only is every spoken intervention received by the subject as function of his structure, but the intervention itself takes on a structuring function due to its form.

See The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan or here : p64 of the Anthony Wilden translation

The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power : 10th-13th July 1958

Although, according to Lacan, in The Direction of the Treatment… what Glover seemed to miss was the concept of the ‘function of the signifier’ and the ‘importance of the signifier in locating analytic truth.’[p9 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation] Lacan criticises Glover for recognising interpretation in everything that is understood exactly or inexactly and compares this view of interpretation to a ‘phlogiston [Phlogiston – a hypothetical substance once believed to be present in all combustible materials and to be released during burning] (…) providing that it feeds the flame of the imaginary.’[p10 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation] Lacan reminds us that the essence of interpretation is its effect, as ‘the signifier effects the advent of the signified, which is the only conceivable way that interpretation can produce anything new.’ [p10 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation]

See The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power:10th-13th July 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here for information.  Reference [13]

Seminar XIV : 21st June 1967

In his seminar on The Logic of Phantasy Lacan agrees with Glover that if interpretation completely eliminates the dimension of truth it is merely suggestion. Here Lacan makes a very interesting point related to ‘the eventual fruitfulness’ of non-analytic incorrect interpretation, namely that ‘incorrect does not mean that it is false’ and he explains that inexact interpretation ‘has nothing to do with what is at stake at that moment, in terms of truth,’ but he reminds us on the same page that ‘the truth rebels’ and that ‘however inexact it might be one has all the same tickled something.’ Seminar XIV : 21st June 1967 : p267 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation.

See Seminar XIV: The logic of phantasy: 1966-1967: begins 16th November 1966 : Jacques Lacan : Information here

A further reference is in Interpreting Psychosis from Day to Day : October 2005 : Éric Laurent: Details here

NOTE

This paper is extensively commented in Interpretation : From Truth to Event : 2nd June 2019 (Tel Aviv) : Éric Laurent  : See  here  http://www.lacanianworks.net/?p=12613

The following are references by Éric Laurent to Jacques Lacan’s citing this paper.  Footnote references are to Laurent’s paper :

Footnote x : quote : This is why, in the 1950s, Lacan became interested in the contribution of the heterodox English psychoanalyst Edward Glover, from the 1930s, referring to his comments on the effect of inaccurate interpretation as follows:

“An article that I advise you to read on the matter is one by Glover called “Therapeutic Effects of Inexact Interpretation,”… It’s a very interesting question, and it leads Glover to draw up a general situation about all the positions taken by whoever finds himself in the position of consultant in relation to every kind of disorder. Having done this, he generalizes and extends the notion of interpretation to every formulated position taken by whomever one consults and draws up a scale of the different positions of the doctor in relation to the patient.”[x]

Information & references : The therapeutic effect of inexact interpretation : a contribution to the theory of suggestion : October 1931 : Edward Glover or here

Seminar V : 18th June 1957 : see Seminar V : The Formations of the Unconscious : 1957-1958 : begins 6th November 1957 : Jacques Lacan or here : p339-340 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : It is extremely important to articulate correctly the different lines on which analysis is situated. There is an article which I would recommend you to read, it is the article by Glover which is called: “The Therapeutic Effect of Inexact Interpretation” (October 1931, Vol. 12, Art. 4 of the IJP).

It is one of the most remarkable and most intelligent articles which could be written on such a subject. It is really in fact the starting base from which the question of interpretation can be approached.

In fact the basis of this article and of the problem that it poses, is something which can more or less be situated as follows: at the point in time that Glover wrote it, we are still at a time when Freud is alive, but at which the great change of analytic technique around the analysis of resistances and of aggressivity has happened. Glover articulates that this analysis of resistances and of the transference is something which with the experience and the development of notions acquired in analysis, is something which implies going over, covering as one might say, in the sense that ground must be covered by the analytic progress the totality of the systèmes fantasmatiques – let us translate “phantasy systems” in this way: the systems of phantasies – which we have learned to recognise in analysis. It is clear that at that time more had been learned, more was known than right at the beginning of analysis, and the question which is posed, is: what was our therapy when we did not know the whole extent, the whole range, of these phantasy systems?

Does it mean that what we did at that time, were incomplete therapeutic treatments, less worthwhile than those which we are carrying out now? It is obviously a very interesting question, in connection with which he is led in a way to draw up a kind of general report on all the positions articulated, taken up, by the one who finds himself in the position of being consulted about any difficulties whatsoever. In a certain way he generalises, he extends the notion of interpretation to every articulated position taken by the person who is consulted, and he draws up a table of the different positions of the doctor with regard to the patient.

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Footnote xi : quote : Glover is sensitive to the aporias inherent in interpretation but does not take account of the operative value of the place of the truth as such. The phlogistic fluid in question is in fact meaning as it appears as escaping the relationship between human beings spontaneously without any basis or principle.

“This importance of the signifier in the localization of analytic truth appears implicitly when an author holds firmly to the internal coherence of analytic experience in defining aporias. One should read Edward Glover to gauge the price he pays for not having the term ‘signifier’ at his disposal. In articulating the most relevant views, he finds interpretation everywhere, even in the banality of a medical prescription […] Conceived of in this way, interpretation becomes a sort of phlogiston: it is manifest in everything that is understood rightly or wrongly…”[xi]

The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power:10th-13th July 1958 : Jacques Lacan  or here : Reference [13] : p9-10 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : To decipher the diachrony of unconscious repetitions, interpretation must introduce into the synchrony of the signifiers that compose it, something that suddenly makes translation possible – precisely what the function of the Other as harbouring the code allows, since it is in connection with it that the missing element appears.

This importance of the signifier in locating analytic truth appears in filigree once an author holds firmly to experienced connections in the definition of aporias. You should read Edward Glover if you want to appreciate the price he pays for lacking this term: though articulating the most relevant insights, he find interpretation everywhere, finding nowhere to stop it, even in the banality of a medical prescription. He even goes as far as to say quite baldly – I am not sure whether he is aware of what he is saying – that symptom- formation is an incorrect interpretation by the subject [13]. Conceived of in this way, interpretation becomes a sort of phlogiston: manifest in everything that is understood rightly or wrongly, providing it feeds the flame of the imaginary, of that pure display, which, under the name of aggressivity, flourished in the technique of that period (1931 – recent enough to be still applicable today. Cf. [13].)

It is only in as much as interpretation culminates in the here and now of this interplay that it is distinguished from the reading of the signatura rerum in which Jung tries to outdo Boehme. To follow it there would not suit our analysts at all.

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Footnote xii : quote : Because of the proliferation of meaning, Glover had the insight to grasp that the binary of the true and the false is not suited to psychoanalysis:

“When Mr. Glover speaks about correct or incorrect interpretation, he can only do so by avoiding this dimension of the truth […] it is very difficult to speak about a ‘false’ interpretation […] of incorrect interpretation […] [for] sometimes it is not wide of the mark for all that. [..] Because truth rebels! And that however inexact it might be one has all the same tickled something.”[xii]

Seminar XIV : 21st June 1967 : pXXIV 267 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : See Seminar XIV: The logic of phantasy: 1966-1967: begins 16th November 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here  : And if interpretation were only something that produces material, I mean, if one radically eliminates the dimension of truth, all interpretation is only suggestion.

This is what puts in their place these very interesting speculations – because one clearly sees that they are only designed to avoid the word truth – when Mr. Glover speaks about correct or incorrect interpretation, he can only do so by avoiding this dimension of the truth and he does it, the dear man, ( a man who knows very well what he is saying) not simply to avoid the dimension – for you are going to see that he does not avoid it. Only look. The fact is that one can speak about the dimension of truth, but that it is very difficult to speak about a “false” interpretation. The bivalency is polar, but it leaves us embarrassed as regards the excluded third. And that is why he admits the eventual fruitfulness – I mean, Glover – of incorrect interpretation. Consult his text. Incorrect does not mean that it is false. It means that it has nothing to do with what is at stake at that moment, in terms of truth. But sometimes it is not necessarily wide of the mark for all that, because … because there is no way here of not seeing it re-emerge. Because the truth rebels! That however inexact it might be one has all the same tickled something.

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Further texts:

By Edward Glover here

By Jacques Lacan here

On interpretation:

Jacques Lacan’s intervention : Gestapo or Geste à peau – an evolving discussion  by Julia Evans on 30th November 2017 or here

Ordinary Interpretation : 12th July 2008 (Paris) : Éric Laurent or here    

Interpreting Psychosis from Day to Day : October 2005 : Éric Laurent or here

The Seminar of Barcelona on ‘Die Wege der Symptombildung
’ : probably Autumn 1996 : Jacques-Alain Miller or here

Interpretation in Reverse : 1996 : Jacques-Alain Miller or here

Interpretation and Truth : 1st July 1994 : Éric Laurent or here

Greek Tragedy: Problems of Interpretation & Discussion: 21st October 1966: Jean-Pierre Vernant or here

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Note : If links to any required text do not work, check www.LacanianWorksExchange.net. If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans.

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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London & Sandwich, Kent

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Further posts:

Lacanian Transmission  here

On Lacanian History here

Of the clinic here

Use of power here

From LW working groups here

Translation Working Group here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

By Julia Evans here