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Stolorow, R.D. Atwood, G.E. Orange, D.M. (1998). On Psychoanalytic Truth. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79:1221.

(1998). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 79:1221

On Psychoanalytic Truth Related Papers

Robert D. Stolorow, George E. Atwood and Donna M. Orange

Dear Sir,

In her otherwise very valuable article, Cavell (1998) mistakenly portrayed us (Stolorow & Atwood, 1992) as having rejected the idea of a real external world. Whereas Cavell's aim was to explicate the preconditions for the sense that one's experiences are subjective, ours was to describe the intersubjective foundations of the sense that one's experiences are real. In a section entitled ‘The Genesis of the Sense of the Real’, from which Cavell quoted a sentence out of context, we wrote:

We are concerned here with the process by which a child acquires an experience of the world and the self as real. ‘Reality’, as we use the term, refers to something subjective, something felt or sensed, rather than to an external realm of being existing independently of the human subject … It is our view that the development of a child's sense of the real occurs through the validating attunement of the caregiving surround … Reality [i.e., the sense of the real] thus crystallizes at the interface of interacting, affectively attuned subjectivities (Stolorow & Atwood, 1992pp. 26-7).

We do not reject the ideas of truth, reality and the external world. Instead, it is our contention that psychoanalytic truth is concerned with lived emotional experiences (the patient's, the analyst's) rather than with objects in the world, a distinction emphasised by Wittgenstein (1953). There is no danger of solipsism or of Cartesian subjectivism here. There is a vision of psychoanalytic truth that is perspectival and fallibilistic (Orange, 1995), relentlessly contextual (Orange et al., 1997), and, in fundamental agreement with Cavell, dialogic and communitarian.

Robert D. Stolorow, George E. Atwood, and Donna M. Orange

Dr R. Stolorow
11726 San Vicente Blvd., 410
Los Angeles, CA 90049
August 1998


Cavell, M. (1998). Triangulation, one's own mind and objectivity. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79: 449-467. [→]

Orance, D. (1995). Emotional Understanding. New York: Guilford Press.

Orance, D., Stolorow, R. & Atwood, G. (1997). Working Intersubjectively. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press. [Related→]

Stolorow, R. & Atwood, G. (1992). Contexts of Being. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.

Wittgenstein, L. (1953). Philosophical Investigations, ed. G. Anscombe.

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