Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Faces in the Cloud: Intersubjectivity and Personality Theory

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Faces in the Cloud: Intersubjectivity and Personality Theory

Article excerpt

GEORGE E. ATWOOD AND ROBERT D. STOLOROW. Faces in the Cloud: Intersubjectivity and Personality Theory. Jason Aronson, Northvale, New Jersey, 1994, 224 pp, $40.00.

In this second edition to their 1979 work Atwood and Stolorow update their theory of intersubjectivity which called for a radical revision in psychoanalytic thinking. The thesis is that the central constructs of all personality theories (in this case Freud, Jung, Reich, and Rank) reflect their creator's attempted solutions to their own unresolved personal conflicts.

Using the psychobiographical method Atwood and Stolorow weave the following stories of the origins of the metapsychological systems of personality theory in the four central chapters of this work:

1. Freud's need to idealize his mother against profound unconscious ambivalence led to developing a theory of psychosexual development that localizes pathology within the child and his/her own sexual and aggressive impulses.

2. Jung's need to defend his fragile sense of self-integrity and stability from psychological annihilation by a retreat into a grandiose autistic world led to his hope for a collective unconsciousness uniting him with others. Jung's struggle with individuation is tied to the traumatic disruption of his ties to his dependent, depressed mother, as well as the inadequacies of his father.

3. Reich's overwhelming guilt regarding his mother's suicide led first to his formulation of character defenses, the dialectics of the sexual and life energies, and the anti-sexual death forces; and later to his own use of psychotic defenses and ultimately psychosis as a way of undoing the trauma of his mother's death. …

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