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Tip: To review an author’s works published in PEP-Web…

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The Author Section is a useful way to review an author’s works published in PEP-Web. It is ordered alphabetically by the Author’s surname. After clicking the matching letter, search for the author’s full name.

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Galatzer-Levy, R.M. (1993). Contexts of Being: The Intersubjective Foundations of Psychological Life: By Robert D. Stolorow & George E. Atwood. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. 1992. Pp. 145+xii.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:1088.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:1088

Contexts of Being: The Intersubjective Foundations of Psychological Life: By Robert D. Stolorow & George E. Atwood. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. 1992. Pp. 145+xii.

Review by:
Robert M. Galatzer-Levy

This short, clear book critiques traditional psychoanalytic thought and offers an alternative. It recommends understanding development and psychoanalysis from an intersubjective position and applies this view to clinical problems. In the intersubjective view, psychological difficulties arise through failures in the interaction of the subjectivities of child and caretaker; these problems may be resolved as they re-enter intersubjective exchange in analysis. The authors believe the analyst has no greater knowledge about reality than the patient, and view the idea of the analyst's authority as both epistemologically and practically unsound. Rather than detecting and correcting the patient's supposed misperceptions of internal and external reality, the analyst's job is to comprehend how the patient constructs subjectivity. The analyst should remain aware that both the patient's construction and the analyst's understanding are profoundly affected by their shared experiences.

Minds, in the authors' view, can never be well understood in isolation but only in interaction with other subjectivities. Psychoanalysis provides an ideal chance to study intersubjectivity. This does not mean that the analyst should merely accept the patient's ideas at face value: the intersubjective point of view includes the idea of unconscious psychological function. It enriches this idea by emphasising how matters that are never brought into dialogue are unavailable for exploration and how fear of loss of needed relationships may lead to forcing matters from awareness.

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