Lived Depth: A Phenomenology of Psychoanalytic Process and Identity

by John C. Foehl, PhD

Author’s Abstract

In this article, I lay out the implications of a phenomenological perspective in which subject, world, and others are given in one stroke, part of the same emergent process. Trends in contemporary psychoanalytic theory lean toward this radical nondualistic view but never quite relinquish a perspective in which subject and object, subject and subject are separate. Through my early studies in phenomenology, I have come to see that psychoanalytic process is better understood as a perceptual engagement in which meaning is formed in the relationship between what is experienced and its context/background/field, a process of lived depth. Strikingly, psychoanalytic identity is a similar process. Inchoate shifts in meaning and investment that we cannot know in formation come clear in relation to a coalescing sense of our place in a professional context. We come to know ourselves retrospectively, an act of après-coup that momentarily stills a continual shape-shifting process, one part of the lived experience of depth.

Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 40:2, 131-146, February 2020.

Link to Online Publication [fulltext can be requested from the library]

About the Author

Jack Foehl, PhD, is a Training and Supervising Analyst at Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute where he is President-Elect. He is Faculty and Supervisor at Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis and Harvard Medical School; Clinical Associate Professor (part time) at NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy; Executive Editor at Psychoanalytic Dialogues; and Editorial Board Member of The International Journal of Psychoanalysis. He is the author of numerous articles on contemporary perspectives in psychoanalytic theory of technique and new ways of thinking about psychoanalytic process. He is in private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Previous Posts:

Cordelia Schmidt-Hellerau, PhD (2019).Body and Mind: Two Sides of One Coin. The Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 42(1-2), 93-102.

Robin Gomolin, PsyaD (2019). The Intergenerational Transmission of Holocaust trauma: A psychoanalytic theory revisited. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 88(3), 461–500.

Anna Ornstein, MD (2020). Mourning. In The Handbook of Psychoanalytic Holocaust Studies: International Perspectives, edited Ira Brenner. Routledge, 2019, p. 74-80.

Randall H. Paulsen, MD (2019). Scientific Theory on the Couch: A Response to Scott C. Taylor. American Imago, 76(3), 405-411.

Bernard Edelstein, MD (2019). Introduction: Stumbling on our Past, Reflections on James Baldwin’s “My Dungeon Shook”. American Imago, 76(3): 295-300.

Don Lipsitt, MD (2020). Is Today’s 21st Century Burnout 19th Century’s Neurasthenia? The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 207(9): 773-777, September 2019.

Elsa Ronningstam, PhD (2020). Internal Processing in Patients with Pathological Narcissism or Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Implications for Alliance Building and Therapeutic Strategies. Journal of Personality Disorders, 34 (Suppl): 80-103.

Dan Jacobs (2019). Three’s a Crowd: Stella’s Pregnancy and the Arrival of an “Other” in A Streetcar Named Desire. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies. 16:3, 174– 180.

Fred Busch (2020). The Clinical Significance and Problems of a Traumaticentric ViewIn Trauma and the Destructive-Transformative Struggle: Clinical Perspectives, edited by Terrence McBride and Maureen Murphy. Routledge, p. 187-194.

Jeremy P. Nahum (2019). Louis Sander: Remembrances and Reflections on His Contributions.

James M. Herzog (2019). “Polarity, Paradox and the Organizing Process in Development”; Parent-Infant Psychotherapy and Child Analytic Technique: In Honor of Louis Sander. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 39:1, 98-108.

Lora Heims Tessman, PhD (2019). Momentums of Meeting. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 39 (1): 88-97.

Jane Hanenberg, EdD (2019). Review of the book Demons in the Consulting Room: Echoes of Genocide, Slavery and Extreme Trauma in Psychoanalytic Practice ed. by Adrienne Harris, Margery Kalb, and Susan Klebanoff. American Imago 76(2), 274-278.

Paola M. Contreras, PsyD (2019). Working with the Human Trafficking Survivor: What Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers and Medical Professionals Need to Know. In Working with the Human Trafficking Survivor: What Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers and Medical Professionals Need to Know, edited by Mary C. Burke. Routledge, pp. 61-80.

Click here to see a full archive of featured papers. All articles can be requested from the library.