IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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III. A. Specific Perspectives in North America: Mainly USA In the US, Intersubjectivity, as a psychoanalytic orientation , is understood to be a theory that explains influences affecting relationships between people. The term has been applied to infant development (Trevarthen, Stern) to account for the reciprocally coordinated co-created reactivity and responsiveness in the interplay of caregiver and infant that propitiates the infant’s development (Beebe and Lachmann). The term has been further applied to explain the interplay of the subjectivities of analyst and analysand. In this usage intersubjectivity shifts the traditional emphasis on transference and countertransference to an expanded expression of the analyst’s subjective experience. The term has also been applied to explain a particular emergence in psychoanalytic relations (Benjamin) or any intimate dyad or group (Lichtenberg) of a “third,” that is, an ambiance and a particular way of doing and being that is more than or different from the subjectivity of the involved individuals. Borrowing from philosophy particularly Husserl, Robert D. Stolorow introduced intersubjectivity into Self Psychology. Stolorow’s usage is in direct opposition to what he refers to as “the Cartesian myth of the isolated mind.” Intersubjectivity as a dominant perspective replaces the traditional major emphasis on intrapsychic processes in Freud’s dual drive conflict theory and its later rendering in ego psychology. Different usages of intersubjectivity have become incorporated in relational theories derived from Sullivan’s interpersonal relationships and field theories. In relational theory, intersubjectivity can be regarded as the matrix from which all communication and exchanges take place – in dyads, family, groups, and cultures. In addition, intersubjectivity is viewed as importantly involved in the ability of an individual to make empathic entry (Kohut) and mentalize (Fonagy) others. In its application in relational, self, and field theories, intersubjective accounts tend to be experience-near and close to the concepts of philosophers of phenomenology. When applied within the contemporary frameworks of Ego Psychology or post-Bionian orientations, they tend to include intersubjective contextualization of the metapsychological level of theoretical discourse. III. Aa. Self Psychology Perspectives Self Psychology began by carrying over the ego psychological emphasis on an intrapsychic focus. To this focus Kohut (1971) added a conception of a special relationship between the self and the selfobject. In this concept a deficit in the self such as the regulation of anxiety were repaired by the transmuting internalization of the function from the object into the self. This relationship between a self becoming cohesive through the activity of the selfobject has been referred to as a one and a half person psychology. Two major revisions were made to this original conception. One was a shift from the language and conceptions of the structure hypothesis to an experience-near theory ( Lichtenberg , 1975, 1979, 1992).


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