From dissociation to dialogical reorganization of subjectivity in psychotherapy

Authored by: Claudio Martínez , Alemka Tomicic

Handbook of Dialogical Self Theory and Psychotherapy

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138503670
eBook ISBN: 9781315145693
Adobe ISBN:


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Contemporary psychoanalysis, and its emphasis on the relational and intersubjective field, shares with the dialogical approach the notions of a decentered self and a view of the mind as a set of discrete states of consciousness. From the perspective of relational and intersubjective psychoanalysis, the human mind is regarded as a non-unitary configuration; that is, as the conjunction of discontinuous states of consciousness that follow a nonlinear course. These states reach a level of coherence that surpasses this discontinuity and leads to the experiencing of a cohesive feeling of personal identity and oneness: the healthy illusion of being “oneself” (Bromberg, 1998, 2011). From another perspective – the dialogical approach – and taking into account Bakhtin’s theory and his polyphonic metaphor, Hermans (1996, 2003, 2004) conceptualized the self as “a dynamic multiplicity of relatively autonomous I-positions in an imaginal landscape” (Hermans, 1996, p. 33). This multiplicity of positions constitutes the identity of a person, which not only emerges from the dialogue with another person but also from the dialogue with other positions of his or her own inner world. For its part, this multiplicity of the self is not only embodied in a social and cultural structure: it also has a neurobiological representation. For instance, LeDoux (2002) proposes a connection between the multiplicity of the self and brain processes, observing that each component of the self correlates with the activation of specific brain systems, which are not always synchronized. This represents a major difference between the idea of the self as an emergent unit or state and the view of the self as a non-unitary process. With respect to the latter point, we know that not all aspects of the self manifest themselves simultaneously, and that these multiple aspects may even be contradictory.

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