'Imaginative dialogue' as a method of psychoanalytic inquiry

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper seeks to provide discussions, as well as make a case for, the use of imaginative dialogue as a creative method of inquiry into the relationships between literature, fictional encounters and psychoanalytic theory. Invoking post-modernist and post-structuralist premises, it argues that the blurring between reality and interpretations gives way to the birth of the ‘theory fictions’. To demonstrate the productive potential of imaginative dialogue as a method of psychoanalytic inquiry into the unconscious, I use examples from my imaginative dialogue with Virginia Woolf, which originated from my doctoral work. The emergence of an inter-subjective meeting and a dialogical interplay during the imaginative dialogue are underlined as being akin to that of the contemporary psychodynamic therapeutic encounter.

Vignettes of the imaginative dialogue between Woolf and I will be used to signpost attention to the imaginative dialogue as a meaning-making process. I then shine light on relationality and intersubjectivity as two essential elements with which an imaginative dialogue is fertilised, and argue that they ultimately give poignancy and solidarity to the intricacy of the human psychological experience being explored. I argue that this kind of fictional encounter, albeit imaginative, does not necessarily compromise the historical contingencies, but can be enriched and contextualised by them, effectively providing a platform where the historical contexts and their shaping influences can be examined. Contending that theory fiction yields reciprocity between literature and psychoanalytic theory, I also represent the method of imaginative dialogue as an artistic endeavour, which preserves emotional depth, inviting more engagements and reflections whilst safeguarding the artistic values imbued within the act of story-telling and narration from being lost through the transformation into a clinical narrative.


ConferenceNarratives of the Therapeutic Encounter
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of ''Imaginative dialogue' as a method of psychoanalytic inquiry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this