Methaphor & Metonymy – Condensation & Displacement.Doc

Displacement; a shift or move in the unconscious when the mind redirects a thought or word dangerous or unacceptable and substitutes it with a more affable thought or word. Condensation; where all the different elements, bits and pieces of thought and dreams combine into one to make sense. In this way they can stand for several different thoughts, feelings, wishes, ideas, etc. For Freud, condensation and displacement / substitution were used as a defense mechanism to contain aggressive and sexual impulses and hide the true unconscious thought (anxiety).

Brought to light through slips, jokes and dreams, these little bits of language produce the whole picture. The Signorelli example, from The psychopathology of everyday life is a fine example of displacement and linguistics. Travelling through Bosnia, Herzegovina; Freud forgets the name of a famous painter; Signorelli. Two other less familiar names come to mind; Botticelli and Boltraffio.

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By combining different bits and parts of the words Signorelli, Botticelli, Boltraffio and Bosnia, Herzegovina, he realises the repressed thought (death and sexuality regarding a patient). A further example comes from jokes and their relation to the unconscious, during a conversation Hirsch – Hyacinth of Hamburg; Pottery agent and extractor of corns, recalls a meeting with the wealthy Baron Rothschild where Rothschild treated him as his equal – ‘quite famillionairely’. (Condensation accompanied by the formation of a substitute)

Metaphor – A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or concept it does not literally denote in order to suggest comparison with its basic meaning (metaphors = suppress). A rough man. Metonymy – is a figure of speech that consists of the use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related or which it is a part i. e. substitution of one word for another. (metonymy combines). The cup was drunk. Jacques Lacan; (1901-1981) believed that the human psyche is found in language.

He thought it an extremely important part of Freud’s understanding of the unconscious. He wanted to expand on Freud’s work or condensation and displacement. Using metaphors and metonymy Lacan related directly to Freud’s thinking in terms of condensation and displacement in so far as the original is changed and a new idea – concept is formed. He placed great importance on linguistics’ (phonemes, multiple use of the same material, double meaning, puns etc) in relation to slips and Para praxes .

He relied on the borrowed work of a number of linguistics in this regard. The linguist, De Saussure believed the relationship between words were greater than objects. Two elements combine in a relationship called signification to produce the linguistic sign. There must be both a signifier (idea) and signified (concept). Lacan noticed the similarities between Saussure and Freud’s work in relation to signifier and signified. In Freud’s representation S/s the signified slips beneath the signifier.

A second linguistic, Roman Jacobson believed the production of language twofold. Selection / substation and combination of the linguistic units. He gives an excellent example of the use of metaphor and metonymy. Quoting from Lewis Carrols, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: ‘“Did you say pig or fig? said the cat. ‘I said pig,’ replied Alice. (Baby to pig suggests a person who is not nice). Other examples include, the Cheshire cat (grin like a Cheshire cat). The March Hare (as mad as a March Hare) etc, etc.

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