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Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in Psychoanalysis
Donnel B. Stern
Routledge (Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press) / Softcover / 2003-04-01 / 0881634050
Relational / Interpersonal Psychoanalysis / Self Help
reg price: $90.95 our price: $ 81.86 (may be subject to change)
310 pages
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Relational Perspectives Book Series Vol. 8

n this powerful and wonderfully accessible meditation on psychoanalysis, hermeneutics, and social constructivism, Donnel Stern explores the relationship between two fundamental kinds of experience: explicit verbal reflection and "unformulated experience," or experience we have not yet reflected on and put into words. Stern is especially concerned with the process by which we come to formulate the unformulated. It is not an instrumental task, he holds, but one that requires openness and curiosity; the result of the process is not accuracy alone, but experience that is deeply felt and fully imagined.

Stern's sense of explicit verbal experience as continuously constructed and emergent leads to a central dialectic at the heart of his work: that between curiosity and imagination, on one hand, and dissociation and unthinking acceptance of the familiar on the other. The goal of psychoanalytic work, he holds, is the freedom to be curious, whereas defense signifies the denial of this freedom. We defend against our fear of what we would think, that is, if we allowed ourselves the freedom to think it.

Much of Unformulated Experience concerns the pragmatic clinical consequences of taking to heart this hermeneutic perspective on experience. Stern shows how the unconscious itself can be reconceptualized hermeneutically, and he goes on to explore the implications of this viewpoint on interpretation and countertransference. He is especially persuasive in showing how the interpersonal field, which is continuously in flux, limits the experience that it is possible for participants to reflect on. Thus it is that analyst and patient are together "caught in the grip of the field," often unable to see the kind of relatedness in which they are mutually involved.

A brilliant demonstration of the clinical consequentiality of hermeneutic thinking, Unformulated Experience< bears out Stern's belief that psychoanalysis is as much about the revelation of the new in experience as it is about the discovery of the old. -- from the publisher

About the Author:

Donnel Stern, Ph.D. is a faculty member and supervisor at the William Alanson White Institute and the Manhattan Institute of Psychoanalysis, and a faculty member at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. He serves on the editorial boards of Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Dialogues and is a coeditor of The Handbook of Interpersonal Psychoanalysis (TAP, 1995) and Pioneers of Psychoanalysis (TAP, 1995).

Table of Contents:

Part I. Experience Formulated and Unformulated
The Given and the Made: A Constructivist View
Unformulated Experience: An Introduction
Familiar Chaos: Unformulated Experience as Defense
Creative Disorder and Unbidden Perceptions: Unformulated Experience as Possibility
Part II. Reconsidering Self-Deception: Toward a Theory of Dissociation
Imagination and Creative Speech: Thoughts on Dissociation and Formulation
Not-Spelling-Out: Dissociation in the Strong Sense
Narrative Rigidity: Dissociation in The Weak Sense
The Problem of the Private Self: Unformulated Experience, the Interpersonal Field, and Multiplicity
Part III Unformulated Experience in the Work of the Analyst
Interpretation and Subjectivity: A Phenomenology of Resistance
The Analyst's Unformulated Experience o f the Patient
Gadamer's Hermeneutics: A Philosophy for the Embedded Analyst
Courting Surprise: Unbidden Perceptions in Clinical Practice

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Stern, Donnel B
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Relational / Interpersonal Psychoanalysis
Relational Perspectives Book Series
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Routledge Psychoanalysis
Self Help
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The Analytic Press