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Cooper, S.H. (2015). An Elegant Mess: Reflections on the Research of Edward Z. Tronick. Psychoanal. Inq., 35(4):337-354.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 35(4):337-354

An Elegant Mess: Reflections on the Research of Edward Z. Tronick

Steven H. Cooper, Ph.D.

It is the body and it alone, because it is a two-dimensional being [this means that as embodied we are both sensible and sentient] that can bring us to the things themselves [to participate in the world with others], which are themselves not flat beings, but beings in depth, inaccessible to a subject that would survey them from above, open to him alone that, if it be possible, would coexist with them in the same world. … If it touches and sees, this is not because it would have the visible before itself as objects: They are about it, they even enter into its enclosure, they are within it, they line its looks and its hands inside and outside. If it touches them and sees them, this is only because, being of their family, itself visible and tangible, it uses its own being as a means to participate in theirs, because the body belongs to the order of the things as the world is universal flesh. [Merleau-Ponty, 1964, pp. 136–137]

Ed Tronick’s work helps us a great deal with the messiness of clinical and theoretical psychoanalysis. It is, indeed, a body and bodies that are part of the mess. That Tronick helps with this mess may not sound like much of a compliment, but for me this is one of the highest compliments I might pay to either a researcher or practitioner of psychoanalysis.

If research outcomes could be described in terms of the dichotomous categories of tragic versus romantic versions of psychic and human functioning, Ed Tronick’s findings are deeply embedded in the romantic.

[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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