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Frank-Rieser, E. (2013). Igor A. Caruso and the intersubjective tradition: On “symbolisation” as the link between the intrapsychic and intersubjective dynamic. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 22(1):26-30.

(2013). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 22(1):26-30

Igor A. Caruso and the intersubjective tradition: On “symbolisation” as the link between the intrapsychic and intersubjective dynamic

Edith Frank-Rieser


Igor A. Caruso (1914–1981), one of the founders of the IFPS and the early Vienna Circle of Depth Psychology, began to discuss questions of the interplay between biological, social, and evolutional realities and intrapsychic development in the early 1950s. Caruso understood that Man's specific human ability to transcend his overdetermined biological constitution into a development of conciousness, care, and self-awareness is basic for his need for and lifelong activity related to intersubjective relationships. Sexual and survival drive as a biological basis contain their own transformation as cultural potency within the subjectobject relationship. Each act of relationship – to things and living objects – creates a new reality that is a meaningful symbol for both parts of the relationship in their single reality. This new – third – reality gains full effectiveness for both actors as “symbolic realism” and initiates the ongoing development. On this understanding, psychic development is a process of changing interactive creation and effectiveness, following the biological drive dynamic as well as its inherent future transformations by attachment. Symbolisation is therefore the main intrapsychic and intersubjective activity of the development of object- and self-awareness. Caruso emphasises the meaning of symbol and symbolisation as an act of relationship to and within the world, and understood psychoanalytic theories as a changing symbolisation of relationship.

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