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Suler, J.R. (1987). Structures of Subjectivity: Explorations in Psychoanalytic Phenomenology, George E. Atwood and Robert D. Stolorow. Hillsdale, NJ and London: The Analytic Press, 1984, 132 pp., $19.95.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 4(4):359-363.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 4(4):359-363

Structures of Subjectivity: Explorations in Psychoanalytic Phenomenology, George E. Atwood and Robert D. Stolorow. Hillsdale, NJ and London: The Analytic Press, 1984, 132 pp., $19.95.

Review by:
John R. Suler, Ph.D.

Since Kohut's death, a new generation of self psychologists continue to push forward into the areas he pioneered. In Structures of Subjectivity, Atwood and Stolorow offer a valuable new perspective within this psychoanalytic movement. They address the previously neglected need to integrate self psychology with traditional philosophical and psychological theories about the self, including hermeneutics, existential phenomenology, and structuralism. They also present their perspective in the form of a well-organized, comprehensive framework that speaks to the fundamental issues of psychoanalytic psychology — personality, development, psychopathology, and clinical theory and technique.

The foundation for this psychological framework consists of the intriguing concepts of “structures of experience” and “intersubjectivity.” At wood and Stolorow define personality as a system or structure for ordering the cognitive-affective schemata through which a person's experience of self and other acquires meaning. Normal development results in the consolidation of an integrated structure, whereas pathological development leads to insufficient or faulty structuralization in which transitional objects, neurotic symptoms, behavioral enactments, and dreams all serve to avoid selffragmentation through the sensorimotor “concretization” of existing structures. They suggest that intersubjectivity is the interaction between the emerging structures of the child and those of the parental selfobject — an interaction that can result in the healthy mirroring and enhancement of the child's self or in its pathological development by forcing it to accommodate to the faulty psychological structures of the parent. In the intersubjective context of psychoanalytic treatment — through empathy, introspection, and interpretation — the analyst activates and restores the patient's self structure.

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