Publication 5965

Prendergast C. N. (2016) In the intimacy of my “enaction”: Modeling Kohut’s “Bipolar self” as an autopoietic system: A dialectic approach to phenomenological research in contemporary psychoanalytic self psychology. The Psychoanalytic Review 103(3): 317–339. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/5965
This paper demonstrates that Kohut’s definitional system of the “bipolar self” within psychoanalytic self psychology can be modeled as a biological autopoietic system, both in terms of its structure and dynamics, in a way that accounts for the phenomenological aspects of experiential living. Based on this finding, the author argues that a nonreductionist definitional system of this type is an integral component of any pragmatic methodology, such as Kohut’s “empathic-introspective” method of treatment, which aims to enable the analyst, as observer, to gain access to the phenomenological world of the analysand within the analytic setting. The dialectic approach undertaken in this preliminary exploration of the “bipolar self” as an autopoietic system has proven fruitful in excavating some of the theoretical features of psychoanalytic self psychology, the weighted importance of which can now be reevaluated in contemporary practice.

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