Psychoanalysts have always understood that we can reflect on experience only when it exists in verbal form. What we have not adequately considered in American psychoanalysis is the nature of language itself. For if language is not merely a set of tags or labels for experience, but actually plays a role in constituting it, we are challenged to change our conception of what it means for experience to be unconscious. Unconscious experience, under those circumstances, is no longer merely hidden, awaiting only language to bring it out of the shadows. Instead, the form it will eventually take in words is not predetermined by its own structure. The shape of our future verbal-reflective experience is not fully accounted for by its past. We can ...

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