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Hagman, G. Press, C.M. (2010). Between Aesthetics, the Coconstruction of Empathy, and the Clinical. Psychoanal. Inq., 30(3):207-221.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 30(3):207-221

Between Aesthetics, the Coconstruction of Empathy, and the Clinical

George Hagman, L.C.S.W. and Carol M. Press, Ed.D.

This coauthored article highlights the significant connections between psychoanalytic theory, aesthetics, and clinical practice. First, Carol M. Press, a modern dancer and choreographer, brings her experience in the field of artistic movement to bear on the issues of aesthetics as it plays out through subjectivity, intersubjectivity, empathic understanding, and implicit knowledge. The relevance of an aesthetic sense of self to the quality of relationships is traced to the earliest developmental moments between infant and caregiver, implicit procedural memory, and the coconstruction of empathic bonds. Then therapist George Hagman elaborates on the multifacted aesthetic dimension and skillfully provides a clinical example to illustrate “the intersubjective interactional nature of the aesthetic dimension of analysis,” reflected in multiple components of the psychoanalytic relationship. Hagman demonstrates how the aesthetic dimensions of the relationship between him and his patient, Jim, contribute to both the empathic process and the therapeutic change. His agonizingly uncomfortable engagement with Jim is a source of empathic understanding as they proceed together so that changes emerge in the aesthetic dimension of their relationship, “the feeling of our being together,” illustrating the importance of aesthetic sensibility in the therapeutic dialogue and everyday human experience.

[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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