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Nixon's “full-speech”: imaginary and symbolic registers of communication

Hook, Derek (2013) Nixon's “full-speech”: imaginary and symbolic registers of communication. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 33 (1). pp. 32-50. ISSN 1068-8471

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Identification Number: 10.1037/a0026373


Communicative interchanges play a foundational role in establishing the social. This being said, communicative behavior can also lead to stalemates and conflict in which demands of recognition outweigh the prospect of hearing or saying anything beyond what is thought to be known. This article foregrounds a dimension of communication often neglected by approaches prioritizing mass communications and new media technologies, namely the psychical and intersubjective aspects of communicative exchange. More directly, this article introduces and develops a Lacanian psychoanalytic theory of two interlinked registers of communicative behavior. The first of these is the imaginary: the domain of one-to-one intersubjectivity and behavior that serves the ego and functions to consolidate the images subjects use to substantiate themselves. The second—far more disturbing and unpredictable—is the symbolic. It links the subject to a trans-subjective order of truth, it provides them with a set of sociosymbolic coordinates, and it ties them into a variety of roles and social contracts. In an elaboration of these two registers, illustrated by brief reference to Nixon's admission of guilt in his interviews with David Frost, I pay particular attention to both the potentially transformative symbolic aspect of communicative behaviors and the ever-present prospect that such relations will ossify into imaginary impasses of mis-knowing (méconnaissance) and aggressive rivalry.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 American Psychological Association
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
E History America > E151 United States (General)
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2014 09:40
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:06

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