Communication as Cure. Communicative Agency in Persons with Congenital Deafblindness

Anne V. Nafstad


The purpose of this article is to expand on the notion of communication as cure, which relies on the other taking the position of an acknowledging and trusted partner within a symbolic, communicative ‘Ego-Alter’ relationship. The topic and perspective is inspired by publications and lectures on dialogism by Ivana Marková and Per Linell, in particular by the books Dialogicality and Social Representations: The Dynamics of Mind (Marková, 2003, 2005) and Rethinking Language, Mind and World Dialogically (Linell, 2009). The article focuses on the role of a communicative partner who takes up the position of a listener-follower of the other’s utterance. This position can be contrasted with the monological position of the message-decoder and is not directly related to intersubjectivity but to supporting a person in expressing his/her subjectivity. The position can be likened to that taken by therapists in psychotherapy (e.g. Yalom, 2006). The article considers how the acknowledgement of the other’s utterance by the listenerfollower realizes the embodied and bodily symbolic expressivity as the proper voice of persons with congenital deafblindness. The article illustrates this point with reference to images of the symbolic expressivity of the body in paintings and sculptural art. Underlying the argument is the idea that it is more relevant to think about the proper voice and nature of communication with people with congenital deafblindness in terms of a manner of being rather than having, as understood by Merleau-Ponty (1962).


communication; dialogicality; intersubjectivity; agency; congenital deafblindness; voice; embodiment; gestures

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