Wittgenstein's ‘Lighting up of an Aspect’ and the Possibility of Change in Psychoanalytic Therapy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The centrality of language in the psychoanalytic process has been recognized since Freud's time and is common to all schools of psychoanalysis. But despite the use of linguistic and literary terms such as ‘metaphor’ and ‘narrative’, the relationship between the role played by language in the constitution of the subject and how it functions in the process of communication between therapist and patient, in general and as a key to change, remains to be elucidated. Psychoanalysts such as Klein and Segal highlighted the importance of symbols in the constitution of the subject. However, they did not examine what actually takes place in linguistic acts, but their outcomes. I argue that in order to better understand the language-based processes we need to examine them from a linguistic perspective as this would demonstrate the neutrality of language and its diverse mechanisms. As a case study of the therapeutic process from the perspective of philology, this article examines the possibility of a change in treatment, inspired by variations on Wittgenstein's term ‘aspect’. Building on Wittgenstein's criticism of The Interpretation of Dreams, I propose expanding the use of this linguistic mechanism to include its function in the process of communication during therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-210
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Psychotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 BPF and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Aspect's ‘Lighting up’
  • Aspect-Blindness
  • Aspect-Seeing
  • Language-Game
  • ‘I’ as Subject


Dive into the research topics of 'Wittgenstein's ‘Lighting up of an Aspect’ and the Possibility of Change in Psychoanalytic Therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this