About a century ago, during its very early stage, psychoanalysis was mainly regarded as an interpretive work. This was probably due to the experience with hysterics, whose symptom can be said a metaphor. However, already the second and third generations of psychoanalysts observed that interpretation was losing its original power. On the one hand this was understood as a consequence of popularizing the psychoanalytical jargon, so that the psychoanalytic interpretation is no longer as "surprising" as it was. On the other hand, new symptoms seem to be structured differently than in "classic" hysteric discourse; more specifically, this shift in the discourse (in its grammar, in the use of its rethorical figures, in the syntax) has the effect that the interpretation (intended as simply a decryption of a language from one language into another) is no longer effective. In some cases interpretation is then useless; in other cases, interpretation might even be counterproductive, as it may lead to more resistances, saturation and/or opposition.
But then, what is the interpretation? How can we understand it? How can it still be useful to the analytical experience?
A few thoughts:
Interpretation in psychoanalysis is a shift in the sense or meaning, not an addition of meaning.
Interpretation in psychoanalysis shows the paradox or nonsense. It is no decryption or decoding work.
Interpreting is likely the analyst 's desire, more than the analysand 's. This poses a limit to the analysis.
Various discourses (hysteric, obsessive, paranoid...) show different resistances to interpretive work
Hysteria anticipates and sustain the Other's desire, so it can provide unending material to interpret; as long as the other desires
Obsessive and paranoid discourses ground on huge Ego; thus, they are unlikely to accept different interpretation