Building on Wachtel’s Points About Implications of Mitchell’s Ideas

Suggestions Based on the Participatory Philosophical Perspective for Locating the Person in the World of Practical Activities

Michael Westerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In his paper “The Relationality of Everyday Life,” Wachtel (this issue) successfully moves us further along the path of the “unfinished journey” (p. 509) of Mitchell’s work. I begin my comments by pointing out how Wachtel identifies the importance for both theory and practice of focusing on everyday life in addition to early parent–child interactions and what transpires in psychoanalytic/psychotherapy sessions. His points about everyday life include rejecting one-person notions of internal processes that are “frozen” in time and offering a way to understand the vicious circles that are a prominent part of most clinical problems. My comments also include suggestions about how we can take another step along the path Wachtel has encouraged us to pursue—which he aptly describes as treating the person as a “self-in-context” (p. 507)—if we approach basic issues about the person’s relationship to others and the world at large along the lines of the participatory philosophical perspective (e.g., Westerman, 2005, 2013, 2014; Westerman & Steen, 2007). That perspective takes as its cornerstone idea the view that from the outset the person is a participant in practical activities. Guided by the participatory perspective, I add to Wachtel’s suggestions about how a focus on everyday life can enter into therapeutic work; present a different view of what are typically called “inner” processes and discuss some of the implications of that view for clinical work; and, most important, put forward an alternative account of vicious circles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)530-545
Number of pages16
JournalPsychoanalytic Dialogues
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 3 2017

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Psychotherapy
Therapeutics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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title = "Building on Wachtel’s Points About Implications of Mitchell’s Ideas: Suggestions Based on the Participatory Philosophical Perspective for Locating the Person in the World of Practical Activities",
abstract = "In his paper “The Relationality of Everyday Life,” Wachtel (this issue) successfully moves us further along the path of the “unfinished journey” (p. 509) of Mitchell’s work. I begin my comments by pointing out how Wachtel identifies the importance for both theory and practice of focusing on everyday life in addition to early parent–child interactions and what transpires in psychoanalytic/psychotherapy sessions. His points about everyday life include rejecting one-person notions of internal processes that are “frozen” in time and offering a way to understand the vicious circles that are a prominent part of most clinical problems. My comments also include suggestions about how we can take another step along the path Wachtel has encouraged us to pursue—which he aptly describes as treating the person as a “self-in-context” (p. 507)—if we approach basic issues about the person’s relationship to others and the world at large along the lines of the participatory philosophical perspective (e.g., Westerman, 2005, 2013, 2014; Westerman & Steen, 2007). That perspective takes as its cornerstone idea the view that from the outset the person is a participant in practical activities. Guided by the participatory perspective, I add to Wachtel’s suggestions about how a focus on everyday life can enter into therapeutic work; present a different view of what are typically called “inner” processes and discuss some of the implications of that view for clinical work; and, most important, put forward an alternative account of vicious circles.",
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