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Stolorow, R.D. Atwood, G.E. (1986). Psychoanalytic Phenomenology: The Work of Stolorow and Atwood. Psychoanal. Rev., 73C(3):247-248.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Review, 73C(3):247-248


Psychoanalytic Phenomenology: The Work of Stolorow and Atwood

R. D. Stolorow, G. E. Atwood, G. E. Atwood and R. D. Stolorow

Among the several attempts in recent years to develop a coherent personality theory that would synthesize the rival schools of psychoanalysis has been the work of Robert Stolorow and George Atwood, whose two volumes are the subject of our Symposium.

In their first volume, Faces in a Cloud, they set forth a psychoanalytic phenomenology as a method for unifying personality theory, and they elaborate the clinical explanatory power of psychoanalytic phenomenology in their later work, Structures of Subjectivity. Implicit in their method is the goal of eliminating reductionism and metapsychology from “clinical psychoanalytic conceptualization and treatment.” Their project is compatible with the view of those who emphasize meaning as the guiding principle for the study of personality. Meaning is achieved for these authors by discovering the “invariant structures” of an individual's subjective representational world. Throughout their work Stolorow and Atwood make use of “experience-near” concepts that refer to personal meaning, intentions, feelings, and adaptive strivings. The concept of intersubjectivity emerges finally as the central organizing principle of their thinking, with psychoanalysis defined as “the interplay between the differently organized subjective worlds of the observer and the observed.”


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