In psychoanalysis a patient’s seemingly disjointed utterances can be compared with the fragments of an image, as with an unassembled jigsaw puzzle. The analyst has to have the ability to defer judgment — to “wait for a picture to develop.” Analysis requires of the analyst an ability to listen “with evenly hovering attention” (as Freud said), sometimes over long stretches of time, to allow the latent meaning of the patient’s unconsciously-determined confessions, as revealed in the patterns of thoughts and feelings of the patient’s manifest narrative, to emerge.
In a session with a psychiatrist years ago I had said to him: “Today is the anniversary of my first day of college, 24 years ago, Monday September 27, 1971. I can still remember that day. My first class was introductory philosophy; it was at 2:00 PM. The teacher’s name was Dr. Rieman — George Fred Rieman. I can remember that he took a picture of the class with an old Polaroid camera. You know, he had a seating chart, and he wanted to know people’s names, he wanted to remember people; he coordinated the seating chart with the people in the picture. He counted down ‘one alligator, two alligator’ — it was a Polaroid picture — he had to wait for the picture to develop.”
My statement, “he had to wait for the picture to develop,” — manifestly relating to a Polaroid image — was a symbolic reference, or metaphor, for the requirement imposed on the psychoanalyst to defer judgment.