The dreaming brain: the terminology of dream in neuropsychoanalysis

March 20, 2014 2:47 pm


Neuropsychoanalysis is a discipline within neuroscience and psychoanalysis which combines the insights of both disciplines for a better understanding of mind and brain. My Master’s thesis, which has been published in TermCoord’s website, aimed to analyse the terminology of dream activity in the new discipline of neuropsychoanalysis. I created 99 terminography entries for dream-related terms which were inserted in TERMit, the terminological database of the School for Translators and Interpreters of the University of Trieste.

The comparison between neuroscience and psychoanalysis is very complex because of differences in objects of study and a series of problematic conceptual and linguistic compatibilities.

Psychoanalysis, as every discipline or science, needs its own terminology. In fact, the new findings and concepts of this discipline wouldn’t have been formulated without the help of new terms. The language we use every day doesn’t have words that refer to mental structures or typical concepts of this discipline. For this reason psychoanalysts needed to invent new terms to fill this gap and, of course, to communicate.

The terminology of psychoanalysis was developed most of all by Freud and it evolved in parallel with his studies and findings. Freud didn’t take much from Latin and Greek. Actually, most of the words and expressions he used belong to common German words and expressions that, after being used by him, came to have a new particular meaning. In psychoanalytic texts we can often find polysemy and synonymy – i.e. the term hypnagogic hallucination has 11 synonyms – and there are many calques of German words.

As for the language of neuroscience and of scientific texts in general, the linguistic characteristics are similar to those of all special languages. The language of science is precise. At the lexical level, one of the most important characteristics is a lack of ambiguity. The result of this is often scarcity of polysemy and synonymy. As far as terms are concerned, some sciences, like physics, prefer the redefinition of words that already exist. Some others, such as chemistry, prefer neologisms. Neologisms derive mainly from initials and acronyms (i.e., PGO, EEG, EOG, EMG, PET, REM), loan words or calques from other languages.

As you can see below, entries in TERMit have a very complex structure, the aim of which is to give a short but detailed conceptual, linguistic and pragmatic description of each term’s characteristics.

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You can find information about synonyms and more details here.

Article written by Claudia Deidda, Trainee Terminologist at TermCoord

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