'Because psychoanalysis is a science of subjectivity, it is no surprise that symbolism has been of central interest from its inception and early development. There are few phenomena more obviously subjective than symbols. They conjure a particular fascination because of their enigmatic quality. For this reason, they manage to communicate something in an obscure manner. Thus, they partly hide. This duality and ambiguity approaches the fl eeting and evanescent quality of subjectivity itself: at its most subjective.'Thinking in this descriptive way is not the most immediately helpful approach to understanding symbols as phenomena because it omits immediate consideration of how symbols are formed and how they are used by the individual and the groups that seem to form around them. Initially, the promise of symbols to the pioneers of psychoanalysis was based on their offering an access to the unconscious. Like dreams - and manifest in dreams - they promised to be part of the royal road to the unconscious.
James Rose, PhD, is a Fellow of the Institute of Psychoanalysis and a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society. He has a private psychoanalytic practice in London. Since 1987 he has worked as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist at the Brandon Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy for Young People, an inner city charity specializing in the psychotherapeutic treatment of adolescents and young adults, situated in Kentish Town, London.
Contents1 Introduction: symbols - on their formation and use2 A connection between a symbol and a symptom by Freud S. 3 Triangulation, one's own mind and objectivity by Cavell M.4 Symbols and their function in managing the anxiety of change by Rose J. S.5 A Psychoanalytic view of perception by Botella C. and Botella S. 6 A clinical paradox of absence in the transference: how some patients create a virtual object to communicate an experience by Rose J.S. 7 Observing patients' use of the psychoanalytic setting to communicate an experience of absence: the work of progressive triangulation by Rose J.S. 8 Some conclusions