BSP Podcast: Kata Dóra Kiss – intersubjectivity and the process of psychotherapy

podcast update

Continuing Season Five of the BSP Podcast, Kata Dóra Kiss with a presentation taken from our 2020 conference, ‘Engaged Phenomenology’.

Season 5 episode 96: 5 December 2020

Season five of our podcast continues with another presentation from our 2020 annual conference: ‘Engaged Phenomenology’ Online. This episode features Kata Dóra Kiss, University of Pécs, Hungary.

Listen to this episode on the BSP’s Podbean site

You can also find this episode on iTunes and all good podcasting apps by searching ‘BSP Podcast’.

Kata Dóra Kiss
‘The Importance of Intersubjectivity in the Process of Psychotherapy’

ABSTRACT: Intersubjectivity had become one of the key concepts for the relational school of psychoanalysis. Although for most psy-sciences the importance of relations in the constitution of the self is out of the debate, there is much less consensus on how decisive this relation is.  Furthermore, the question of intersubjectivity in psychology drives us to one of the ultimate question of the psychology of the present: human beings are more biologically determined, than socially or vice versa? Nowadays, natural scientific discourse is the mainstream scientific frame for western psy-sciences, although, there has never been one coherent and fully consensual one in psychology. This frame prefers biological explanations over the socio-cultural account. The fundamental unit of examination in this approach is the individuality and its implicit assumption is that the psychic structure is a closed system where mental processes are taking place. Western clinical practices mainly rely on this paradigm, as it could produce a testable and comprehensive empirical framework. This framework, however, implicitly formulate a generalized and normative ideal. In cognitive sciences or universal diagnostic systems, there is an implicit notion on how our cognition or psyche has to function. It raises the risk of normalization, in which therapy is a tool for the modification of the patient’s self to approach a “neurotypical” ideal. However, the notion of normality is a protean category that is culturally determined and very changeable in time and space. The presentation would like to argues that those therapeutic forms that are based on the intersubjectivitist approach could easier avoid the menace of normalization. These concepts are prioritized the complex cultural, social and family matrix in which human experiences are formed. It implies that our self, traits, and attitudes are unfolding through our connections and bonds from early childhood. The relational school of psychoanalysis does not accept the myth of the isolated mind, but it emphasizes our embeddedness in the web of social relations. Budapest School, British object-relations theory, intersubjective psychoanalysis or relational psychoanalysis are assuming that psychotherapy is first and foremost an interpersonal event between two people. In the field of therapy, the analysand’s psychic structure could never be independent of its objects, in this case, from the therapist. This intersubjective relation is the central element of the healing process. It assumes that psychological events are never just a function of inner structures and forces but are always derivate of interaction with others. Consequently, therapeutic space is also an open-ended plane of transactions. Transference and counter-transference, occur in the therapy, create a dialectical field where past emotions and traumas are re-enacted and embodied in the two-person context. Memories from the past, specific associations cannot spring automatically but because of the presence of the other person. This phenomenological approach would be helpful for professionals to understand in-depth the importance of embodied emotions that could only raise by the physical contact. The two main topics of the presentation are the connection between the phenomenological intersubjectivity and the relational approaches of psychoanalysis and the importance of intersubjectivist approaches in psychological healing.

BIO: I am a second-year student of the Theoretical Psychoanalysis Ph.D. program at the University of Pécs, Hungary. My doctoral research focuses on the importance of intersubjective relations in the field of psychological therapy. By this, I would like to point out that a more humanistic approach, that intersubjectivity could offer, could help professionals to avoid the process of normalization and the reproduction of social imbalances through psychological treatment. Before my Ph.D., I completed my Masters in Philosophy and Critical Gender Studies at the Central European University in Budapest. These fields help me to see this question not only from an insider, psychological approach but from a more critical and social scientific perspective.

This recording is taken from the BSP Annual Conference 2020 Online: ‘Engaged Phenomenology’. Organised with the University of Exeter and sponsored by Egenis and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health. BSP2020AC was held online this year due to global concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic. For the conference our speakers recorded videos, our keynotes presented live over Zoom, and we also recorded some interviews. Podcast episodes from BSP2020AC are soundtracks of those videos where we and the presenters feel the audio works as a standalone:

The British Society for Phenomenology is a not-for-profit organisation set up with the intention of promoting research and awareness in the field of Phenomenology and other cognate arms of philosophical thought. Currently, the society accomplishes these aims through its journal, events, and podcast. Why not find out more, join the society, and subscribe to our journal the JBSP?