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Renik, O. (2004). Intersubjectivity in psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(5):1053-1056.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(5):1053-1056

Intersubjectivity in psychoanalysis Related Papers Language Translation

Owen Renik

If we simply asked the question ‘Is clinical psychoanalysis intersubjective?’, I believe we would be hard pressed to find a psychoanalyst who would answer, definitively, ‘No’. Most colleagues acknowledge, in principle, that intersubjectivity is a dimension of psychoanalytic events. However, crucial controversies arise when we begin to specify how, in practice, that acknowledgment is applied. What is the impact, if any, upon our psychoanalytic theories? What is the impact, if any, upon how we proceed in our work with patients?

An individual's subjectivity refers to the influence upon that individual's mental activity of his/her various personal, idiosyncratic assumptions, concerns and motivations—including those that arise from membership in particular cultures and subcultures. Psychoanalysts have always taken account of the fact that a patient's subjectivity is constantly being expressed within the clinical situation, mostly in ways of which the patient is unaware. On the other hand, it is only recently that we have begun to take account of the fact that the very same is true of an analyst within the clinical situation.

While psychoanalysts have long recognized the importance of countertransference, the concept itself and the way in which it is ordinarily used reflect a compromised understanding of the participation of an analyst's subjectivity in clinical events. Standard conceptions of clinical psychoanalytic technique direct the analyst to identify his/her own subjectivity and, as far as possible, minimize its influence in his/her analytic functioning.

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