You've Come a Long Way Baby: Recognizing Maternal Subjectivity and the Meaning of Therapeutic Mutuality
The new psychoanalytic developmental perspective on self and other grew out of many strands of thinking in the latter part of the 20th century, and in particular this talk considers how relational theory met developmental theory with a focus on mutuality. My own vision of intersubjectivity was embedded in and grew out of a matrix including many currents in philosophy, object relations (especially Winnicott), self psychology, attachment studies, infancy research, and the feminist recognition of the mother as a separate subject. Over time the mutuality implicit in this perspective moved my thinking from the idea of “recognition and destruction” as a one-way process where the analyst survives, to a two-way process in which there is mutual survival, where each survives the other, where the relationship moves from rupture to repair of the third. This perspective worked in tandem with the evolving reflection on trauma and dissociation, the reciprocal nature of attunement to each partner’s self states: the idea that the analyst, too, must change, must show the impact of the patient’s affect, experience, suffering. With the re-evaluation of enactments in therapeutic change, it became possible to flesh out the insight that at some level mutual knowing is unavoidable as well as desirable. I have discussed the consequences of this shift, namely that the analyst has to acknowledge moments of failed witnessing and open them for exploration with the patient. Here I will further develop this theme, discussing the problem of the analyst’s shame and vulnerability, the mutual nature of trust and safety, and relate it to the way in which the patient’s knowledge of the analyst’s mind and how the concept of the third facilitates this kind of analysis.
· Understand the developmental origins of mutuality in the mother-infant relationship, especially in relation to the understand the balance of mutuality and asymmetry in the therapeutic relationship.
· Understand how mutuality plays a role in contemporary psychoanalytic work with trauma.
· Understand how mutuality and relational knowing contribute to building a "third" in analysis.
· Learn how to identify the breakdown of mutality (the third) and work with impasse and enactments usefully.
· How acknowledgment facilitates repair and the best use of enactments.
· How mutual recognition contributes to the concept of the third can be used in clinical practice.