chapter  5
29 Pages

Intersubjectivity and unconscious process: an integrated model

We have defined intersubjectivity as largely an unconscious process of communication and meaning making between the two intrapsychic worlds of the patient and the analyst that results in changes between, and within, each member of the analytic pair. In this chapter, I wish to deconstruct this complex exchange into its constituent elements and explore how the two minds affect, probe, come to know each other, and, through that exchange, create new meaning and/or “uncover” previously constructed meanings that have been repressed. In our journey thus far, we have traced the development of certain ideas, evolved from the DNA of various analytic lineages, that in retrospect we may see as an important notion that went unnoticed at the time. For example, Otto Isakower’s (Chapter 2) thinking about the twoperson aspect of the analyzing instrument, which was analogous with Kurt Lewin’s (1935) earlier formulations of field theory, largely lay fallow because political forces of the day marshaled against a full appreciation of Isakower’s ideas, due to doubts regarding the creative use of countertransference (Lothane, 2006), thus effectively driving

the notion of the two-person field into a theoretical purgatory in American psychoanalysis. However, as we have seen in Chapter 3, the climate in the River Plate region reactivated Lewin’s theories of the field when Pichon-Rivière productively blended them with Kleinian views of unconscious phantasy. The concept of the analytic field was given further expression by the Barangers’ notion of the shared unconscious phantasy of the couple, thereby mating Pichon-Rivière’s thoughts with Bion’s study of group dynamics. Unfortunately, since the Barangers’ ideas remained in Spanish until 2008, they stayed foreign to English-speaking analysts until Italian colleagues (many of whom are at ease with Spanish), such as Ferro, brought them to our attention, but only after their “marriage” with Bion’s (1965) theory of transformations.