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Ávila, A. (2016). The intersubjective: A core concept for psychoanalysis†. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 25(3):186-190.

(2016). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 25(3):186-190

The intersubjective: A core concept for psychoanalysis

Alejandro Ávila

The history of psychoanalysis has developed along two main routes: metapsychological (drive theory) and relational. So-called “relational psychoanalysis” derives from the convergence of several traditions – interpersonal and sociocultural (Sullivan, Fromm), object relations theory (Fairbairn), self psychology (Hokut), and intersubjective systems theory (Stolorow, Atwood, Orange) – enriched along many decades by a variety of strong contributions from Ferenczi to independent thinkers such as Bion, Winnicott, Bowlby, Pichon Rivière, W. and M. Baranger, J. Sandler, Ogden, and Bollas, among many others. Facing its main controversies in terms of theory, present psychoanalysis evolves between heuristic versus hermeneutic, intrapsychic versus intersubjective, fantasy versus trauma, conflict versus deficit, and drives versus motivational systems. Controversies in technique have also evolved from a neutrality and abstinence model to an optimal provision and frustration model experienced in mutuality but ethically balanced. This paper displays the main concepts of the relational perspective, in which intersubjectivity is both a constitutive frame for human beings and the essential way for change. Developments from infant research and neuroscience – and the deep social and cultural changes facing twenty-first century societies – promote a new scene for today's psychoanalysis in convergence with these relational proposals.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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