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Target, M. (2006). The Interface Between Attachment and Intersubjectivity: Another Contribution from Karlen Lyons-Ruth. Psychoanal. Inq., 26(4):617-621.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 26(4):617-621

The Interface Between Attachment and Intersubjectivity: Another Contribution from Karlen Lyons-Ruth

Mary Target, Ph.D.

Karlen Lyons-Ruth's latest very important article places the mechanisms of attachment in a new, intersubjective context against a background of evolutionary biology. The present discussion adds a further way to think about Lyons-Ruth's discussion of intersubjectivity, relating it to the work of the Hungarian developmentalists Csibra and Gergely. Their theory makes the intersubjective processes highlighted by Lyons-Ruth central in human evolution and individual development. The human mind is unique in that it learns about the meaning of the external world—especially the social and emotional world—through another subjectivity; that means that the other person must be available to “teach.” Lyons-Ruth's findings are compatible with the prediction, from Csibra and Gergely's theory, that the withdrawal of the caregiver would be crucial to later pathology. It means the absence of the essential source of information both about the self (through contingent mirroring) and about loved others and the rest of the world. Because the study sample size is small, the finding of an absence of interaction between genes and environmental influences cannot be conclusive.

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