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Carr, E. Nachman, P. (2017). “Just Have Fun”—Epilogue: Daniel Stern: Contributions to Psychoanalysis and Developmental Psychology, Part I. Psychoanal. Inq., 37(4):270-273.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 37(4):270-273


“Just Have Fun”—Epilogue: Daniel Stern: Contributions to Psychoanalysis and Developmental Psychology, Part I

Elizabeth M. Carr, A.P.R.N., M.S.N., B.C. and Patricia Nachman, Ph.D.

Robert Emde describes the appealing qualities of playfulness and aliveness that Daniel Stern brought to living and to his life’s work. Having been both a friend and a collaborator, Emde summarizes the contributions of Stern beginning with his writings about modes of intersubjectivity (self and self-with-other experience) that have contributed to a transformational shift in psychoanalytic thinking, particularly with regard to early development. Before Stern, the word intersubjectivity was virtually absent within psychoanalytic discourse; now it is a central aspect of our discourse.

Emde describes Stern’s thinking regarding the curative factors in psychoanalysis, focusing especially on the implicit processes of clinical interaction. Stern believed that repeated intersubjective exchanges between patient and analyst, operating primarily at the implicit level, give rise to emergent experience that promotes expanded self-with-other schemas. These moments involve both meaningful connection (a sense of being in sync with each other) and, at other times, mismatches that provide opportunities for negotiation and correction. In this, new relational ways of being and being with another are developed. Importantly, as described by Emde, Stern believed these intersubjective moments of meeting do not require verbalization to have their therapeutic effects. This point alone has captured the conversation of much of contemporary psychoanalytic thinking from a variety of theoretical persuasions while outlining a number of important implications for clinical practice and for clinical research.

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