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Rosenbaum, P. (1988). Structures of Subjectivity: Explorations in Psychoanalytic Phenomenology: By George E. Atwood and Robert D. Stolorow. Hillsdale, N.J.: The Analytic Press. 1984. Pp. 132.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 69:555-558.

(1988). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 69:555-558

Structures of Subjectivity: Explorations in Psychoanalytic Phenomenology: By George E. Atwood and Robert D. Stolorow. Hillsdale, N.J.: The Analytic Press. 1984. Pp. 132.

Review by:
Paul Rosenbaum

This book represents an effort at developing a contemporary psychoanalytic theory by integrating the ideas of a number of recent contributors, particularly those of Heinz Kohut, with certain aspects of classical theory. It also seeks to relate some analytic concepts to philosophical ideas about the nature of Being and consciousness, as articulated in existentialist phenomenology. It can, perhaps, be looked on as an attempt to strengthen the foundations and to widen the therapeutic scope of Self Analysis.

Two general principles, Intersubjectivity and Concretization, are presented as bases for such a current psychoanalytic theory. Rejecting the view that psychopathology can develop purely out of intrapsychic conflict, the authors assert that its origins must always be sought in an interpersonal context, particularly that of the child-parent interaction. Subjectivity refers to the individual's characteristic ways of experiencing himself and the significant objects around him. These attitudes serve as guiding principles in his dealings with the world but he has little or no reflective knowledge of them. It is one of the tasks of analysis to make the patient more aware of these personal guidelines which constitute the structures of his character. The maintenance of these structures is seen as a fundamental human need and it is suggested that their concrete rendering in actions, symptoms, and dreams may serve such an integrative function.

The philosophical chapter of the book opens with the assertion that the methods of natural science, with their emphasis on causality, are not appropriate for the study of human subjectivity.

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