I- positions and the unconscious

Authored by: John Rowan

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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The notion of the dialogical self considers the self as ‘a dynamic multiplicity of relatively autonomous I-positions in the landscape of the mind’ (Hermans, 2001, p. 174, emphasis added). These I-positions offer a way of talking that neatly sidesteps the problem of reification inherent in such older concepts such as archetypes, complexes, subpersonalities, ego states and parts. I-positions come and go with the situation, and are not regarded as solid, continuous entities. It also gets over the problem of making a space for such concepts as soul, spirit or God/Goddess, which are clearly not sub anything, nor are they ego states or parts of the person. Some clients, and some therapists, make use of such ideas, and in most theories they are hard to handle. But they can be I-positions.

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