chapter  7
12 Pages

Perspectives on individuality: From cells to selves


As psychoanalysis moved from a one-person drive model to a two-person interactive model, it increasingly emphasized connection with others, attachment, and, specifically in self psychology, the selfobject milieu. These shifts have been spearheaded by a multitude of clinicians (e.g., Beebe, Knoblauch, Rustin, & Sorter, 2005; Beebe & Lachmann, 2002; Greenberg & Mitchell, 1983; Stolorow, Brandchaft, & Atwood, 1987). Absent from these discussions have been a recognition and articulation of the patient’s unique individuality-that is, what the patient brings to the encounter that is uniquely his or her own. As a result, the unique contributions of both the patient and the analyst have been subsumed within the interactive matrix. In addition, the patient’s heredity, family, and culture are sometimes conflated with psychopathology rather than an articulation of individuality. This chapter will argue that we need to capture and address explicitly a person’s uniqueness in addition to what has been interactively organized, or “cocreated.” This is not an argument against the importance of “cocreation” but rather an attempt to redress an imbalance that has crept into our theorizing and clinical practice. We need to pay equal attention to what the patient brings as his or her own and not solely to what is cocreated in the analytic situation.