On this week’s repost, we tune into Melissa, Bridger and Caleb discussing the concept of intersubjectivity and how this is relevant to therapy interventions and research.

What is Subjectivity?

  • Occurs when two or more people bring their collective experiences into the space between them. 
  • Bridger’s book example (10:59).
  • Everyone has objective roles they play (therapist, researcher, academic, parent, friend).
  • Placing our subjectivity into an object serves many purposes.
  • Such as hiding ourselves, finding safety somewhere, or gaining approval and validation.
  • “Inter” in the word “intersubjectivity” is used to give language to the space between the two subjects: the third
  • Melissa’s example of going home (14:30).

Why “Intersubjectivity”?

  • Remember, words spoken by one person may mean something totally different to someone else. 
  • Also, “relationship” doesn’t specifically speak to the space between
  • Notably, relationships can happen between objects or between a subject and an object.
  • Importantly, intersubjectivity highlights the universality in the interconnectedness of our species.
  • Check out George Kelly’s construct theory.

Intersubjectivity, Early Attachment, & Cultural Influences

  • Daniel Stern’s Interpersonal World of the Infant
  • The relationship between infant and primary caregiver builds the concept of self. 
  • The caregiver’s attunement to the child’s emotional needs forms templates for how the infant will encounter others.
  • Lastly, the parent creates a third space, bringing in their emotional experience within the relationship.
  • As a culture, we minimize the right hemisphere.
  • This causes a lack of embodiment of our personal concept of self.
  • Check out Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology
  • Commonly, we’re placed into the objective “it” or “its.”
  • Notice the felt difference between “we” and “its”.
  • Reflect on all the times throughout life that there was a longing for “we.”
  • Melissa remembers her desire for a subjective mother (46:14). 

Intersubjectivity in Therapy:

  • Firstly, when we invite intersubjectivity with a client, there’s a stimulation of the right hemisphere that causes activation.
  • Often, this feels anxiety-provoking, yet exciting, because it’s something that the person has been longing for. 
  • There are differences between a witnessing object and a witnessing subject. 
  • Remember, many of us were trained as therapists to be objective, not subjective. 
  • Importantly, we are not suggesting that working in the intersubjective space requires self-disclosure.
  • Instead, it’s about present moment awareness of the experience of the other human.
  • Lastly, it’s about the feeling evoked in the experience with the other. 

Resource Links

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