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Curtis, R.C. (2012). New Experiences and Meanings: A Model of Change for Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Psychol., 29(1):81-98.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 29(1):81-98

New Experiences and Meanings: A Model of Change for Psychoanalysis

Rebecca Coleman Curtis, Ph.D.

A model of the self is presented emphasizing the experiential self, along with self-with-other representations. This model focuses on primary consciousness in distinction from consciousness of the theory of the self, or the sensory-perceptual self in addition to verbal/conceptual processes. The experiential self is discussed in relation to contemporary neuroscience and nonlinear dynamic systems theory. Acknowledgment of the experiential self leads to implications for therapeutic action. Although psychoanalysis has focused on a change in the meanings of experience—especially unconscious meanings—as a route to change, many recent theorists have commented on new experiences themselves as leading to change. This idea is consistent with acknowledgment of the experiential self. To the extent the idea of an experiential self is endorsed, there are implications for interventions that can address it. These include attention to sensory processes, the body, visual images, language in the present, and mind-fulness techniques in addition to nonverbal aspects of the relationship. Instead of simply relying on interpretation leading to insight, the model of change in psychoanalysis can now be said to be one of new experiences and new meanings of experiences. Such models of the self and change help to bridge the gap between psychoanalysis and “mainstream” psychology.

[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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