Sunday, February 19, 2012

Useful Relational Intersubjective Inferences

Having recently attended a conference where the speaker read a paper which leaned heavily toward inferring, from the psychoanalytic situation, particularly the narrative, infantile drives and fantasies, I was much relieved to find myself once again in the Tampa Bay Institute’s Study Groups and classes discussing inferences from infant research and attachment theory. Specifically discussed was the 1999 paper The Two-Person Unconscious: Intersubjective Dialogue, Enactive Relational Representation, and the Emergence of New Forms of Relational Organization by Karlen Lyons-Ruth.

Lyons-Ruth reminds us that meaning systems are organized by more than the symbolic (words and images): “meaning systems are organized to include implicit or procedural forms of knowing.” As such, a primary engine of change is “new enactive ‘procedures for being with’ [which] destabilize existing enactive organization…” Moreover, “procedural forms of representation are not infantile” for “development does not proceed only or primarily by moving from procedural coding to symbolic coding.” She states that “‘internalization’ is occurring at a presymbolic level...[thus] representation [is] not of words or images, but …of enactive relational procedures…”

One such procedure is parent-infant dialogue and, when flexible and collaborative “is about getting to know another’s mind…” A coherent, open dialogue requires openness of the parent, not in the form of “unmonitored parental self-disclosure, but by parental ‘openness’ to the state of mind of the child...” [And] “intersubjective recognition in development requires close attention to the child’s initiatives in interaction…” Likewise, the parent seeks “active negotiation and repairing of miscues, misunderstandings, and conflicts of interest;” It is from these ideas of Lyons-Ruth and others that clinicians infer the importance in the analyst-analysand dialogue the need for flexible and collaborative openness to the state of mind of the other, with attention to initiatives of the other, and a responsibility to seek repair of ruptures.

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