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Aron, L. (2019). Discussion of “Bread and Roses: Empathy and Recognition”. Psychoanal. Dial., 29(1):92-102.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 29(1):92-102

Discussion of “Bread and Roses: Empathy and Recognition”

Lewis Aron, Ph.D.

Rachel Kabasakalian McKay’s (this issue) important contribution focuses on a comparison of “empathy” and “recognition.” In her paper, McKay compares the sensibility of responsive attunement that she associates with empathy to the sensibility of distinctiveness that she connects to recognition. This discussion takes up this comparison of empathy and recognition associated with their embeddedness in self-psychology in contrast to relational and intersubjectivity theories. In the author’s view, the essential tension between autonomy and at-one-ness is necessary to both empathy and recognition and should not be split between them. Because recognition is Benjamin’s fundamental idea, the foundation of intersubjective recognition theory, it is incumbent on us to develop and elaborate the precise technical meanings, denotations, and connotations of this term, along with its clinical and social implications. The author believes that the key to this project is to see that, for Benjamin, recognition occurs throughout life across developmental levels and thus actually refers to quite different, although deeply related, phenomena.

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