Phone Analysis

An aspect of phone analysis that Fink did not discuss was the difference of voice from sight. For example, although the analysand does not see the analyst on the couch, he no doubt sees himself, as an analysand, being seen by the analyst. In other words, he sits in view of the analyst, with his own eyes fixed against the wall, and imagines himself being seen (e.g., the analyst sits behind the couch). But we are led to think that we can not say this with respect to the telephone analysis (unless we are dealing with a psychotic). Lacan said: “[O]ne sees oneself being seen, but one does not hear oneself being heard. Namely, one does not hear oneself where one is heard, namely, in one’s head, or, more exactly, those who are in this situation – those who in effect hear themselves being heard – are psychotic (it is the structure of verbal hallucination).”

Do not be too quick to presume that this means that one can not see oneself being seen on the telephone (as if an analysis of ego-ideal and ideal-ego were made impossible). There are other ways of accessing the transference of seeing oneself being seen. For example, Fink notes that some analysands wonder if their breathing sounds too heavy. Is this necessarily a ‘hearing oneself being heard?’ Not at all – it is precisely because they can not hear themselves being heard that they are forced to imagine how the analyst sees them being heard (e.g., “do I sound out of shape?,” “am I not moral enough?”). Fink’s argument is precisely that telephone analysis may in fact bring out this transference better than in-room analysis – and it is because the analysand can not be seen that he wonders all the more how the analyst must ‘view’ him.


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