Københavns Universitet
Uafhængig af ledelsen


Phenomenology of Listening (no. 5): Psychoanalysis and Logotherapy


Seminar — Open seminar in cooperation between University of Copenhagen and the Centre for Pastoral Education and Research, Church of Denmark


Date & Time:

Faculty of Theology, South Campus, Karen Blixens Plads 16, Kierkegaard Auditorium (Lok. 9A.0.01

Hosted by:
Center for the Study of Jewish Thought in Modern Culture




It is no coincidence that we often use acoustic metaphors in order to describe the relation between interiority and exteriority. The sense of hearing can be seen as the door to the soul (Johann Gottfried Herder), but it is also essential for a human being’s openness to the external world. Moreover, there is an obvious connection between Vernunft and Vernehmen: according to Helmuth Plessner, the human spirit has its soil and substratum in sensory perception, and thinking is particularly related to listening. While Derrida’s criticism of logo- and phonocentrism assumes an underlying ‘metaphysics of presence’ where ‘thinking to oneself’ means ‘hearing oneself speak,’ we will explore listening as the bond between impression and expression, between call and response, and as one’s link par excellence to the Other. We will concentrate on what eludes the apparent identity between reason, language, and reality.

In a series of lectures and research seminars at CJMC and ensuing publications, we will develop a multi-disciplinary approach to the phenomenology of listening with an emphasis on the foreignness of the word, voice, or speech experienced by a person who becomes moved and de-centered by more or less harmonious or conflictual events of resonance happening in-between subjectivity and alterity.

Research seminar no. 5 focuses on psychoanalytic listening in the context of a therapeutic relationship. The analyst resonates with the client’s words, feelings, and unpronounced moods. If the therapeutic work goes well, “a common language” and “mutual rhythm” (Joan Wexler) are discovered, which give form and meaning to what has been silently present but not yet understood. Matthew Steinfeld has suggested musical metaphors for “the acoustics” of psychotherapy, which transmute felt sense into sound and involve “the resonance of mutual recognition”: another’s life reverberates in the mind of the one who listens closely and remembers the “echo” of the encounter in the vibrant co-created space in which the treatment takes place: as a kind of “concert.” Moreover, in the clinical encounter between a sufferer and a listener, an interhuman space beyond suffering might open up through a “metamorphic address” that ties two subjects together and transforms them (Dorothée Legrand).

At the research seminar we will investigate the language of the encounter and the ways in which it is received. To what extent is this language verbalized and in what sense can it become healing? How does meaning arise and how can even the unconscious ‘speak,’ be ‘heard’ and understood? We will not only return to the founding father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, but also study various variations, for instance in Jacques Lacan’s concept of “the Symbolic,” Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s “logotherapy” and Theodor Reik’s notion of the “third ear” that attends to different voices within the self.




René Rasmussen (Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen): “Language or lalangue (Lacan) – on poetic effects in language”
Coffee break
Mikkel Wold (Centre for Pastoral Education and Research, Church of Denmark): “ Looking for meaning – existential analysis as a corrective to modern relativism (Frankl)”
Coffee break
Claudia Welz (CJMC, University of Copenhagen): “Freud’s ‘telephone receiver’ and Reik’s ‘third ear’ – listening to the unconscious”
Everyone is welcome!

Participation is free, but online registration required by September 3, 2018