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Coparticipant Psychoanalysis

Coparticipant Psychoanalysis: Toward a New Theory of Clinical Inquiry

Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Coparticipant Psychoanalysis
    Book Description:

    Traditionally, two clinical models have been dominant in psychoanalysis: the classical paradigm, which views the analyst as an objective mirror, and the participant-observation paradigm, which views the analyst as an intersubjective participant-observer. According to John Fiscalini, an evolutionary shift in psychoanalytic consciousness has been taking place, giving rise to coparticipant inquiry, a third paradigm that represents a dramatic shift in analytic clinical theory and that has profound clinical implications.

    Coparticipant inquiry integrates the individualistic focus of the classical tradition and the social focus of the participant-observer perspective. It is marked by a radical emphasis on analysts' and patients' analytic equality, emotional reciprocity, psychic symmetry, and relational mutuality. Unlike the previous two paradigms, coparticipant inquiry suggests that we are all inherently communal beings and, yet, are simultaneously innately self-fulfilling, unique individuals. The book looks closely at the therapeutic dialectics of the personal and interpersonal selves and discusses narcissism -- the perversion of the self -- within its clinical role as the neurosis that contextualizes all other neuroses. Thus the goal of this book is to define coparticipant inquiry; articulate its major principles; analyze its implications for a theory of the self and the treatment of narcissism; and discuss the therapeutic potential of the coparticipant field and the coparticipant nature of transference, resistance, therapeutic action, and analytic vitality. Fiscalini explores "analytic space," which marks the psychic limit of coparticipant activity; the "living through process," which, he suggests, subtends all analytic change; and "openness to singularity," which is essential to analytic vitality.

    Coparticipant Psychoanalysis brings crucial insights to clinical theory and practice and is an invaluable resource for psychoanalysts and therapists, as well as students and practitioners of psychology, psychiatry, and social work.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50726-4
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Psychoanalytic Paradigms, Clinical Controversy, and Coparticipant Inquiry
    (pp. 1-6)

    Throughout its history, psychoanalysis has been threatened by internal dissension and external rejection. In our own day, the search for psychic truth and personal wisdom in self-exploration finds a cold reception in an increasingly narcissistic, unreflective, and hurried society—impatient, addicted to magical solutions, other-directed to the extreme. Externally beset by these societal demands for an instantaneous, effortless, and painless therapy and internally split by sectarian divisiveness, psychoanalysis is now again, as in its earliest days, characterized by clinical controversy and wide differences of opinion on what constitutes the core of clinical psychoanalysis or best defines the psychoanalytic method.



    • CHAPTER 1 Coparticipation and Coparticipant Inquiry
      (pp. 9-20)

      All psychoanalyses, however symbolized or structured, are coparticipatory integrations. The psychoanalytic situation always involves two unique personalities, entwined in double-helix fashion, continuously transferring experience, resisting influence, suffering anxiety, and analyzing themselves and each other. As the prefix co, meaning “with,” “joint,“ “mutual,” “in conjunction,” suggests, analyst and patient are inevitably coparticipants—interrelated within an interpersonal field of their making, inextricably involved in a continuous series of reciprocal interactions.

      Both analyst and patient bring their conscious and unconscious motives, wishes, and ideals—their personal strivings and stirrings, interpersonal insecurities, defensive striving, and relational yearnings—to their shared relationship. Consequently, they will...

    • CHAPTER 2 Core Principles of Coparticipant Inquiry
      (pp. 21-39)

      Coparticipant inquiry is defined by seven interrelated clinical features; when practiced consistently, they distinguish this form of analytic inquiry from all others. As noted in chapter 1, these core principles are the following:

      1. An understanding of the psychoanalytic situation as an interpersonal and intersubjective field of experience. This constitutes the analytic importance of the relational and interpersonal dimensions of the self.

      2. A recognition of and emphasis on the psychoanalytic importance of unique individuality, including the capacity for will, choice, and proactive motivation. This constitutes the clinical influence of the personal dimension of the self.

      3. A view of the patient as...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Evolution of Coparticipant Inquiry in Psychoanalysis
      (pp. 40-66)

      It begins with Freud; in his work we find the first hints of a coparticipant analytic sensibility. By nature an explorer, bold and incisive, passionately committed to the search for psychological truth, to exploring the depths of the human soul, Freud evidenced an early sense of the coparticipatory nature of the clinical analytic encounter. However, encumbered by a nagging fear that his creation, psychoanalysis, would be dismissed as unscientific, its therapeutic benefit solely the result of suggestion rather than the objective result of scientific procedure and methodology, Freud highlighted the aspect of objective nonparticipant observation of his method. In response...


    • CHAPTER 4 The Multidimensional Self
      (pp. 69-84)

      Coparticipant inquiry is premised, in part, upon a unique vision of the self. For the inquiring coparticipant psychoanalyst the notion of the self—the “I” or “me”—is a compelling study, critical to the understanding of human experience and behavior. Yet questions of the true nature of the self remain. Is it a unitary phenomenon or multidimensional in nature? Inborn or acquired? And, if learned, how? Are we inviolably separate from one another, or are we all in some fundamental sense indivisible, transpersonally linked. Or, paradoxically and beyond logic, are we somehow both: indivisibly connected, part of a unity, yet...

    • CHAPTER 5 Clinical Dialectics of the Self
      (pp. 85-98)

      The human psyche is characterized by a fundamental dialectic between its communal and its uniquely individual dimensions, between its strivings for social adaptation and for self-fulfillment and self-expression. The psyche is at once reactive to its social environment and also personally proactive; it seeks interpersonal security as well as personal creativity. This dialectical nature of the psyche is manifest in the dynamic relation between the interpersonal and personal selves and in the dialectic of the other selves: the personalized, relational, and sensual selves.

      The personal self, as defined earlier (cf. chapter 4), comprises processes of will, autonomy, agency, and creativity,...


    • CHAPTER 6 The Self and Narcissism
      (pp. 101-108)

      The coparticipant inquiry into the nature of the personal self and the processes of self-fulfillment mirrors one of the central themes in post-Freudian psychoanalysis: the inquiry into narcissism. These two lines of inquiry share a similar concern with the psychology of the self. As Fairbairn (1952) tells us, people are fundamentally object-seeking, but they are also self-seeking, in search of their true selves. Beyond their shared concern with the self, however, self-actualization theorists and analysts who study narcissism take divergent paths, for they study very different selves. The study of narcissism is the inquiry into the interpersonal self, the “me”...

    • CHAPTER 7 Clinical Narcissism: Psychopathology of the Self
      (pp. 109-125)

      Narcissism is an ancient form of human suffering. The psychological and spiritual perils of self-absorption and human arrogance are told in the sacred writings of our most ancient religions. Thus the understanding of the moral, social, and personal dangers of solipsistic self-rapture and self-blinding vanity reaches back in time, farther even than that of the Greek mythology that names this all-too-common affliction.

      Narcissistic relatedness, symbolized dramatically by the self-enraptured plight of mythic Narcissus, is the plight of the unloved self. The pathology of narcissism is the psychopathology of the self, in particular that dimension of the self that Sullivan refers...

    • CHAPTER 8 Coparticipant Inquiry and Narcissism
      (pp. 126-140)

      Unraveling the psychological meanings and developmental origins of patients’ (or analysts’) narcissism is a complex and often difficult task. Each analyst and patient represents a complex and variable integral of his or her shamed, spoiled, special, and spurned selves. Consequently, it is seldom clear whether clinical expressions of narcissistic relatedness in the psychoanalytic situation by either patient or analyst represent the transferential or countertransferential living out of dissociated egocentric and “grandiose” developmental needs or the unconscious defensive play of pathological narcissism. If they represent the latter, it is difficult to know whether its origins lie in being indulged, shamed, or...

    • CHAPTER 9 Narcissistic Dynamics and Coparticipant Therapy: Further Considerations
      (pp. 141-152)

      From the very first moments of their first encounter, analysts and patients interactively live out their central narcissistic hopes, expectations, and problems. Each analytic coparticipant brings to the experiential analytic field his or her unique pattern of dissociated archaic egocentric and grandiose yearnings, idealized personifications of the self and others, and defensive characterology. Both coparticipants bring a unique combination of their shamed, spoiled,special, and shunned selves to the intersubjective analytic field, and the character and course of each analytic pairing develops out of the unique patterning of these selves and their dyadic interplay.

      The dialectical relationship between analyst and patient...


    • CHAPTER 10 Openness to Singularity: Facilitating Aliveness in Psychoanalysis
      (pp. 155-168)

      Psychological aliveness, as both theme and experience of inquiry, is a central concern for all analysts. As a central theme in psychoanalytic treatment, therapeutic aliveness calls to mind such processes and experiences as creation, exploration, play, wonder, and discovery. Psychoanalysis is fundamentally about life, about living it creatively and passionately and, of course, reflectively. It is, after all, the living of life, the psychological working through of irrational difficulties in living, and the radical transformation and deepening of our living that makes up the psychoanalytic agenda. And for those of us who practice it, psychoanalysis is our life’s work and...

    • CHAPTER 11 Therapeutic Processes in the Analytic Working Space
      (pp. 169-183)

      The conscious and unconscious analytic space between terror and despair defines the range of effective analytic work. It is within this analytic working space, bounded by too much and too little anxiety, that patients and analysts are able to live and work through their respective neuroses and narcissisms. When there is too much analytic anxiety, whether on the side of the patient or the analyst, effective coinquiry disintegrates or is shifted into resistance or counterresistance.That is, either one or both coparticipants become preoccupied with restoring self-esteem and avoiding any more anxiety and loss of self-esteem. Analytic communication and learning is...

    • CHAPTER 12 Coparticipant Transference Analysis
      (pp. 184-201)

      For the coparticipant analyst, as for all analysts, the concept of transference—the unconscious transfer of psychic experience from one interpersonal context to another—defines a central dimension of psychoanalytic inquiry, one that is critical for the in-depth therapeutic study of psychic suffering. Transference refers to the reliving of past experience in present interaction with others; that is, the present is misidentified as the past. One responds to others as though they were in some way significant figures of one’s childhood. Transference (and countertransference) relatedness is thus marked by this irrational carryover of early feelings, attitudes, behaviors, fantasies, beliefs, and...

    • CHAPTER 13 Living Through
      (pp. 202-216)

      The therapeutic action of psychoanalysis—the working through of patterns of irrational living—derives not simply from interpretation, as classically thought, but, more basically, from the experiential living through of these patterns in new ways, that is, by the formation, not just formulation, of new experience (Fiscalini 1988). This holds true for the successful resolution of all neurotic patterns of living. The working through of unmet yearning and defensive characterology requires that both aspects of neurosis—unlived need and defensive self-protection—be experientially lived through in new and different ways in the immediate personal relationship between analyst and patient.¹ Instead...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 217-224)
  11. References
    (pp. 225-234)
  12. Index
    (pp. 235-246)