individuality in context: The relationality of finitude
A common misconception among critics of relational perspectives in psychoanalysis is the notion that an emphasis on the relational or intersubjective contexts of emotional experience defocuses, or even nullifies, experiences of individualized selfhood.*As my collaborators and I (Stolorow, Atwood, & Orange, 2006) have emphasized, such criticisms tend to collapse the distinction between phenomenological description and theoretical explanation. As a phenomenon investigated by the psychoanalytic method, individualized selfhood is grasped always and only as a dimension of personal experiencing. Explanations of this dimension (or of disturbances in it) in terms of its taking form within intersubjective systems do not in any way imply a neglect or annulment of it. Contextualizing is not nullifying.