chapter  1
6 Pages

The Contextuality of Emotional Life

It is a central tenet of intersubjective-systems theory-the psycho-analytic perspective that my collaborators and I have been developing over the course of more than three decades (Stolorow, Atwood, & Ross, 1978; Stolorow, Atwood, & Orange, 2002)—that a shift in psychoanalytic thinking from the primacy of drive to the primacy of affectivity moves psychoanalysis toward a phenomenological contextualism (Orange, Atwood, & Stolorow, 1997) and a central focus on dynamic intersubjective elds (Stolorow, 1997). Unlike drives, which originate deep within the interior of a Cartesian isolated mind, affect-that is, subjective emotional experience-is something that from birth onward is regulated, or misregulated, within ongoing relational systems. Therefore, locating affect at its center automatically entails a radical contextualization of virtually all aspects of human psychological life.