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Lamothe, R. (2008). John Macmurray's Philosophy of Community and Psychoanalysis. Contemp. Psychoanal., 44(4):581-603.

(2008). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 44(4):581-603

Additional Contributions

John Macmurray's Philosophy of Community and Psychoanalysis

Ryan Lamothe, Ph.D.

In this article, I contend that John Macmunay's philosophy of community provides a perspective that can add to our understanding of parent-infant interactions, omnipotence, transference, and psychoanalytic goals. In brief, Macmurray defines community as mutual/personal forms of associations wherein persons recognize and treat each other as persons—unique, responsive, agentic, centers of subjectivity. From a developmental view, for Macmurray, it is the parent's intentional recognition and omnipotent construction of the baby as a person that shape and govern the infant's impulse to communicate. Initially, the infant's impulse to communicate involves omnipotent impersonal recognition of objects—whereby the objects are recognized primarily in terms of utility, benefit, and function. The parent's personalization enables the child, in time, to subordinate impersonal recognition to personal recognition. Transference, from this standpoint, is understood as a confluence of past forms of impersonal associations and the wish for mutual/personal associations. The psychoanalytic relationship, while a contractual association, instantiates mutual/personal associations. Thus, an aim of psychoanalytic psychotherapy is community, which for Macmurray is the crucible where persons experience freedom, as well as being alive and real.

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