International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy

Series | Book | Chapter


Toward a semantics of the symptom

the world of fraud

Donn WeltonWolfram Schüffel

pp. 243-255


This paper arises out of collaborative work between a psychosomatic physician and a philosopher that uses an analysis of a 30-year-old woman suffering from tinnitus to begin framing what we call a semantics of psychosomatic symptoms. We suggest that her symptom has a truth-bearing function that can be discovered once we understand the symptom as situated in her world and her world in terms of the phenomenological notion of horizon. The horizon, to speak generally, consists of a nexus of significance. The notion of significance, however, is polymorphic and can be dismantled into three different structures supporting human engagement, into what we call setting, context, and background. Distinguishing them, we suggest, would make a contribution to the theory of psychosomatic symptoms. The paper then concentrates on the notion of background, the harder of the three notions to capture, and introduces a contrast between the origins and the telos of bodily symptoms. Returning to the case of Frau D, we suggest that the truth of her (and perhaps others') conflict-generated symptoms can be found not just in the history of her conflicts but also in four interlocking functions organized teleologically: delimiting, bordering, gate-keeping, and attaching. "— End of Abstract'

Publication details

Published in:

Lohmar Dieter, Brudzińska Jagna (2012). Founding psychoanalysis phenomenologically: phenomenological theory of subjectivity and the psychoanalytic experience, Springer, Dordrecht.

Pages: 243-255

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-1848-7_13

Full citation:

Welton Donn, Schüffel Wolfram (2012). Toward a semantics of the symptom: the world of fraud, in D. Lohmar & J. Brudzińska (eds.), Founding psychoanalysis phenomenologically, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 243-255.