Scott Bortle

Defense Date


Graduation Date



Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Clinical Psychology


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Bruce Fink

Committee Member

Daniel Burston

Committee Member

Jessie Goicoechea


conversation analysis, discourse analysis, Lacan, Laing, Ogden, perspectivism


This dissertation explores the possibilities that pragmatic linguistic analytic methods might have for psychoanalysis, both in the latter's attempts to establish itself as an empirically grounded endeavor and in its understanding of its own theoretical constructs. I begin with a discussion of some of the troubles psychoanalysis has had in legitimizing itself in the eyes of its peers since in inception, suggesting that a closer relationship with already-established sociolinguistic sciences (i.e. pragmatic analysis of linguistic interaction) may aid in its promotion.

I then describe how these methods have already been taken up within the field of psychology in the study of therapy process, noting a gap in the research such that they have yet to be brought to bear on the analysis of psychoanalytic constructs. I discuss some theoretical overlaps that already exist between psychoanalytic theory and the linguistic philosopher John Austin (namely critiques of modern subjectivity and the function of language) and give examples of possible conceptual intersections that might be further expanded in the future. I discuss repression and projective identification as two such possibilities.

I conclude with some of the implications and limitations of this dialogue, noting that a pragmatic perspective might be better suited to interpersonal theories of psychoanalysis. I discuss the hegemonizing risk inherent in the metaphor of vision. I also address in what way linguistic pragmatic methods--and a psychoanalytic theory that centers itself around the construct of unconscious intention--can in the end be said to be "empirical." While these problems are not likely be solved in the near future, a continued discussion of them, stemming from viewing psychoanalytic constructs through a pragmatic lens, will nonetheless be fruitful.