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What can possibly be wrong with the process of understanding in psychoanalytic treatment?  Everything, according to Bruce Fink.  In Against Understanding. Volume 1: Commentary and Critique in a Lacanian Key (Routledge, 2014), he argues that since understanding is part of the Lacanian imaginary, it often leads to fixed assumptions and projections on the part of both analyst and analysand, inhibiting change, or the curative in psychoanalysis.  Many of us probably have heard ourselves and others say that understanding why we do something hurtful or destructive does not seem to stop us from doing it; again and again and again.  In the clinical vignettes, case studies, and theoretical papers compiled in this volume Fink suggests that rather than understanding, clinicians ought to strive to bring the unconscious to speech – to help analysands communicate knowledge once residing in the unconscious.  Such knowledge is generated not through narrative, insight, or meaning making but parapraxes, slurred speech, and mixed metaphors – the non-sense produced by the subject of the unconscious.  Speaking that which was previously unsymbolizable shakes the ego at its foundation and enables therapeutic change.

A section of Against Understanding is devoted to interviews conducted with the author about his translations of Lacan and the work of translation generally. We touch on issues of translation in our interview as well, highlighting the creativity, pleasures, frustrations, and compromises involved in the process. Bruce Fink and I have only begun to explore his theoretical and clinical writings.  Please stay tuned for the next installment in a few months, when we will discuss volume 2 of this incisive and thought-provoking collection.

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