Character and Emotional Phenomenology: Psychotherapeutic and Ethical Implications with Robert Stolorow
About the Presentation
Traditionally, in psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis, the term character has been used to refer to constellations or configurations of behavioral traits. This presentation explores character from a phenomenological perspective that takes worlds of emotional experiencing as its principal focus. Emotional worlds always take form in contexts of human interrelatedness. Developmentally, recurring patterns of emotional interaction within the child-caregiver system give rise to principles that prereflecively shape subsequent emotional experiences, especially experiences of significant relationships. The totality of a person’s prereflective organizing principles constitutes his or her character. From this phenomenological perspective, there can be no character “types,” since every person’s array of organizing principles is unique and singular, a product of his or her unique life history. Psychoanalytic therapy is a dialogical method for bringing this prereflective organizing activity into reflective self-awareness so that, hopefully, it can be transformed.
The presentation examines those organizing principles formed in contexts of emotional trauma. Next, it takes up aspects of therapeutic change. Third, it elucidates the contextuality and existentiality of emotional trauma. Fourth, it looks at the phenomenon of shared organizing principles formed in contexts of collective trauma. Lastly, it suggests some ethical implications of this understanding.
About the Presenter
Robert D. Stolorow is a psychoanalyst known for his works on intersubjectivity theory. He received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from Harvard University in 1970, and his Certificate in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy from the Psychoanalytic Institute of the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health in New York City in 1974. He earned a PhD in Philosophy from the University of California, Riverside, in 2007. Stolorow is a Founding Faculty Member and Training and Supervising Analyst at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles. He lives and works in Santa Monica.
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