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Number 15: Autumn 2022

Ten Theses on the the Philosophy of Psychoanalytic Translation

Anastasios Gaitanidis


Psychoanalytic theories are, typically, means of spatialising our psychic world. To comprehend oneself, one needs to know the psyche’s topography, to know how to navigate it by creating a map out of it. And then one needs to learn how to get lost in it.

In psychoanalysis one learns how to become competent map reader who knows how to go astray. One needs the freedom to lose one’s way, to lose oneself in one’s thoughts and speech. And this is not easy. In order to do this, one must enter a labyrinthine process, in which each significant psychic object and relationship figures as an entrance to the maze and as a means of finding one’s way out of it.


Psychoanalytic translations are attempts at preserving psychic objects by scaling them down into tiny pieces which thus lose their heaviness and grandiosity but maintain their autonomy and totality. This renders them both meaningless and extremely meaningful, useless and incredibly useful, portable amulets that one could carry inside the maze.

Due to this function, the propensity of psychoanalysis is to set itself against interpretation/translation whenever it is obvious. This is because it recognises the importance of either the process whereby one removes symbolism out of some psychic objects and attaches it to others, where nobody can detect its existence (displacement), or the process whereby one uses multiple symbolisms for a single object or a single symbolism for multiple objects (condensation).