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Dunn, J. (1995). Intersubjectivity In Psychoanalysis: A Critical Review. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:723-738.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:723-738

Intersubjectivity In Psychoanalysis: A Critical Review

Jonathan Dunn

The intersubjective critique of the classical model's positivistic tradition is examined. Classical analysis construes the core of mental life as a discrete entity that can be relatively interpretively captured as such. In contrast, the intersubjectivists construe core psychic processes as inseparable from a relational matrix. The intersubjective critique is traced to the theoretical tensions in Freud's concepts of transferencelcoun-tertransference and ego development. Questions are raised whether the current intersubjective challenges actually constitute changes in clinical activity and process. Noted is the ubiquitous overlap between the intersubjective and classical models in all theories of psychoanalysis, as each seem to capture different aspects of mental functioning. Classical analysis maintains a difference between a stultifying ‘idealisation’ of a positivistically-based objective orientation and a holding such a possibility as only an ‘ideal’ to strive for: absolutist approaches to theory are unfounded, as the irreducibility of our subjectivity does not reduce us to total ignorance. Adopting an intersubjective orientation does not stop analysts from idealising ‘that theory’ and imposing it on the patient in an authoritarian manner. Nothing intrinsic to any theory forestalls self-aggrandisement, and answers to such problems may lie in other kinds of theoretical debates than these.

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