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Trop, J.L. (1994). Chapter 10 Conjoint Therapy: An Intersubjective Approach. Progress in Self Psychology, 10:147-158.

(1994). Progress in Self Psychology, 10:147-158

Chapter 10 Conjoint Therapy: An Intersubjective Approach

Jeffrey L. Trop, M.D.

Several authors (e.g., Lachkar, 1985; Solomon, 1988) have discussed the utility of self-psychological concepts in the psychotherapy of couples. The intent of this chapter is to describe the application of the theory of intersubjectivity to the treatment of couples. It is the thesis of this chapter that disjunctive interactions within couples can be uniformly illuminated by understanding the principles unconsciously organizing the inner experiences of both parties. Before clinically illustrating this thesis, I first review the theoretical framework of intersubjectivity. I then discuss the conjoint therapy of a couple to illustrate the value of an intersubjective approach.

Atwood and Stolorow (1984) described the concepts of intersubjectivity as they have been applied to the psychoanalytic treatment of individual patients:

In its most general form, our thesis … is that psychoanalysis seeks to illuminate phenomena that emerge within a specific psychological field constituted by the intersection of two subjectivities—that of the patient and that of the analyst…. Psychoanalysis is pictured here as a science of the Intersubjective, focused on the interplay between the differently organized subjective worlds of the observer and the observed.

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