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Aron, L. (1990). One Person and Two Person Psychologies and the Method of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Psychol., 7(4):475-485.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 7(4):475-485

One Person and Two Person Psychologies and the Method of Psychoanalysis

Lewis Aron, Ph.D.

The distinction between a monadic theory of mind (a one-person psychology) and a relational theory of mind (a two-person psychology) is crucial in understanding psychoanalytic concepts. However, some psychoanalytic theorists see these two models as essentially complementary whereas others see them as contradictory and irreconcilable.

I argue that the artificial distinction between clinical theory and metapsychology obscures the recognition that the most fundamental psychoanalytic clinical concepts and procedures were formulated and historically understood as one-person phenomena. Transference was not conceptualized as an interpersonal event occurring between two people but was rather understood as a process occurring within the mind of the analysand.

The article attempts to extricate fundamental clinical concepts from the quasibiological drive theory that has dominated both our metapsychology and our clinical theory, and to reexamine the value of these clinical concepts within a relational, contextual, and intersubjective framework. The article examines the method of free association in order to illustrate the different implications of one-person and two-person psychologies. I propose that a two-person or relational field theory does not need to neglect or minimize the intrapsychic, the importance of fantasy, psychic reality, or the centrality of bodily and childhood experience.

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