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Westerman, M. (2017). Building on Wachtel’s Points About Implications of Mitchell’s Ideas: Suggestions Based on the Participatory Philosophical Perspective for Locating the Person in the World of Practical Activities. Psychoanal. Dial., 27(5):530-545.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 27(5):530-545

Building on Wachtel’s Points About Implications of Mitchell’s Ideas: Suggestions Based on the Participatory Philosophical Perspective for Locating the Person in the World of Practical Activities

Michael A. Westerman, Ph.D.

In his paper “The Relationality of Everyday Life,” Wachtel (this issue) successfully moves us further along the path of the “unfinished journey” (p. 509) of Mitchell’s work. I begin my comments by pointing out how Wachtel identifies the importance for both theory and practice of focusing on everyday life in addition to early parent–child interactions and what transpires in psychoanalytic/psychotherapy sessions. His points about everyday life include rejecting one-person notions of internal processes that are “frozen” in time and offering a way to understand the vicious circles that are a prominent part of most clinical problems. My comments also include suggestions about how we can take another step along the path Wachtel has encouraged us to pursue—which he aptly describes as treating the person as a “self-in-context” (p. 507)—if we approach basic issues about the person’s relationship to others and the world at large along the lines of the participatory philosophical perspective (e.g., Westerman, 2005, 2013, 2014; Westerman & Steen, 2007). That perspective takes as its cornerstone idea the view that from the outset the person is a participant in practical activities. Guided by the participatory perspective, I add to Wachtel’s suggestions about how a focus on everyday life can enter into therapeutic work; present a different view of what are typically called “inner” processes and discuss some of the implications of that view for clinical work; and, most important, put forward an alternative account of vicious circles.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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