The theory of unformulated experience is an interpersonal/relational conception of unconscious process. The idea is that unconscious content is not fully formed, merely awaiting discovery, but is instead better understood as potential experience—a vague, vaguely organized, primitive, global, non-ideational, affective state.
In the past, the formulation of experience was most commonly understood as verbal articulation. That was the perspective Donnel B. Stern took in 1997 in his first book, Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in Psychoanalysis. In this new book, Stern recognizes that we need to theorize the formulation of nonverbal experience, as well. Using new concepts of the "acceptance" and "use" of experience that "feels like me," Stern argues for a wider conception of "meaningfulness." Some formulated experience is verbal ("articulation"), but other formulations are nonverbal ("realization"). Demonstrating how this can be so is at the heart of this book. Stern then goes on to house this entire set of ideas in the commodious conception of language offered by Charles Taylor, Gadamer, and Merleau-Ponty.
The Infinity of the Unsaid offers an expansion of the theory of unformulated experience that has important implications for clinical thinking and practice; it will be of great interest to relational/interpersonal psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists.
"Stern is famous for confronting our "Hard Question:" What were our patients’ meanings before they were worded, and how is that affected by those and subsequent words? Almost every question in psychoanalysis leads there, making Stern’s book indispensable for the practitioner, who will gain a realistically hopeful view of their daily work from Stern’s picture of the relationship between words, life, and the expressive states in between. And Stern’s account of his progressive revisions is a virtual education in how to think about the human condition."-Lawrence Friedman, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Weill-Cornell Medical College
"Don Stern is a theoretician’s theorizer and a clinician’s right-hand. He writes of realms that elude our grasp yet are where we need to go - the space between words, that ineffable sense that ‘vibrates’ with the spoken word. He is a poet of the nonverbal, unformulated, unsaid - the real - and writes in a conversational yet highly sophisticated style. Talking therapy has thus expanded as Stern takes his rightful place among the leading psychoanalytic thinkers of today, depolarizing their global reach. Read this book, it will help you."-Andrea Celenza, Ph.D., Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, author of Erotic Revelations: Clinical Applications and Perverse Scenarios
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction: Meaningfulness: More than Just Words Chapter 2: Articulation: The Formulation of Verbal-Reflective Meaning Chapter 3: Realization: The Formulation of Nonverbal Meaning Chapter 4: Manifestation: The Underlying Unity of Verbal and Nonverbal Meaning; Appendix
About the Author
Donnel B. Stern is Training and Supervising Analyst, William Alanson White Institute, New York City and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychology and Clinical Consultant, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. He is the founder and editor of the Routledge Psychoanalysis in a New Key Book Series and author and editor of many articles and books. His most recent authored book is Relational Freedom: Emergent Properties of the Interpersonal Field (2015).