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Stolorow, R.D. Atwood, G.E. (1996). The Intersubjective Perspective. Psychoanal. Rev., 83(2):181-194.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Review, 83(2):181-194

The Intersubjective Perspective

Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D. and George E. Atwood, Ph.D.

In our early psychobiographical studies of Freud, Jung, Reich, and Rank (Stolorow and Atwood, 1979), we found that psychoanalytic metapsychologies derive profoundly from the personal, subjective worlds of their creators. This finding, which has a powerfully relativizing impact on one's view of psychological theories, led us inexorably to the conclusion that what psychoanalysis needs is a theory of subjectivity itself-a unifying framework that can account not only for the phenomena that other theories address but also for the theories themselves.

Our own proposals for such a framework (Stolorow and Atwood, 1992), have undergone a significant process of development during the past two decades, culminating in what we have come to call the theory of intersubjectivity. The central metaphor of our intersubjective perspective is the larger relational system or field in which psychological phenomena crystallize and in which experience is continually and mutually shaped. Our vocabulary is one of interacting subjectivities, reciprocal mutual influence, colliding organizing principles, conjunctions and disjunctions, attunements and malattunements-a lexicon attempting to capture the endlessly shifting, constitutive intersubjective context of intrapsychic experience, both in the psychoanalytic situation and in the course of psychological development. From this perspective, the observer and his or her language are grasped as intrinsic to the observed, and the impact of the analyst and his or her organizing activity on the unfolding of the therapeutic relationship itself becomes a focus of analytic investigation and reflection.


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