Jan 232013

In his paper on Alfred Lorenzer [1], Tobias Vollstedt uses the expression “scenical comprehension” to translate the German “szenisches Verstehen“. I feel that this translation might lead to misunderstandings, for two reasons:

1) The word “scenical” in English is closely connected with associations of pittoresque landscapes etc. The German association of “putting on stage” is only vaguely addressed by the word “scenical”, the meaning “drawing attention to sth.” not at all. (The same applies to “scenic understanding”, a term which has also been used to translate “szenisches Verstehen“.)

2) The word “comprehension” appears awkward, in that it is hardly ever used in connection with psychoanalytic practise – we do not “comprehend” our patients but we understand them.

As Vollstedt states, Lorenzer’s term “szenisches Verstehen” has a lot in common with Betty Joseph’s “total situation”, although her theoretical interest is strictly restrained to technique while Lorenzer is developing a meta-psychoanalytical framework. Nevertheless a term hinting at this connection could be useful.

Hopefully native speakers will eventually find an appropriate solution to this problem of translation.

Notes    (↑ returns to text)

  1. Tobias Vollstedt: The Work of Alfred LorenzerThe Other Scene, N°1, 2013.