Moving Through and Being Moved By: Embodiment in Development and in the Therapeutic Relationship

by the Boston Change Process Study Group (BCPSG)


Biological bodies play a central role in interpersonal communication, going beyond a metaphoric function and encompassing the mutual sensings that constitute neurobiological relatedness. In this account, emotions are not inner states that we experience only individually or that we have to decode in others, but instead are primarily shared states that we experience through interbodily affectivity, often without verbal articulation. We refer to these processes of embodied affectivity as “moving through and being moved by.” Because meaning making comes from moving in the world and being moved by it, when we move each other, we participate in each other’s meaning making. Psychoanalytic treatment can be viewed as the catalyzing of new capacities as patient and analyst move through the patient’s most troubling vulnerabilities in increasingly fluent and flexible ways, as communicated most immediately through body-based interaffectivity. We further tie these processes of body-based interaffectivity to early developmental trajectories in the increasingly sophisticated understanding of other minds.

Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 54 (2): 299-321, May 2018.

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Engagement and the Emergence of a Charged Other is another recent publication by the Boston Change Process Study Group.

About the Authors:

The members of the Boston Change Process Study Group © (listed alphabetically) are:

Nadia Bruschweiler-Stern, MD, pediatrician and child psychiatrist, is the director of the Brazelton Centre of Switzerland and a consultant/supervisor at the University Hospital of Geneva. Her clinical work and teaching focuses on the early development of the infant, how parenthood transforms the individual, and the beginning of the parent–infant relationship.

Karlen Lyons-Ruth, PhD, is professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a supervising psychologist at the Cambridge Hospital. She is a past board member of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, a fellow of the American Psychological Association, and an honorary member of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

Alexander C. Morgan, MD, is a practicing analyst in Boston, a faculty member of the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Psychoanalysis, and an assistant clinical professor in the Cambridge Hospital Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

Jeremy P. Nahum, MD, practices psychoanalysis and psychiatry in Cambridge, MA. He is on the faculties of the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Psychoanalysis, and the Harvard Medical School at the Cambridge Hospital, where he serves as a psychiatric consultant to the Family Pathways Project.

Bruce Reis, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, and a visiting faculty member at several psychoanalytic institutes around the United States. In addition to practicing full-time in Manhattan, Dr. Reis serves on the editorial boards of several psychoanalytic journals.

Previous Posts:

Fred Busch, PhD (2018). Searching for the Analyst’s Reveries. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 99(3): 569-589.

Murray M. Schwartz, PhD (2018). Psychoanalysis in My Life: An Intellectual Memoir. American Imago, 75(2), pp. 125-152.

Rodrigo Barahona, PsyaD (2018). Book Review of “Psychoanalytic Technique: Contributions from Ego Psychology” (Técnica Psicoanalítica: Aportaciones de la Psicología del Yo) By Cecilio Paniagua. Madrid: Editorial Tébar Flores, 2014. 426 pp. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 87(2): 369-379.

Michael Robbins, MD (2018). The Primary Process: Freud’s Profound Yet Neglected Contribution to the Psychology of Consciousness. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 38(3):186-197.

Mark Schechter, MD; Benjamin Herbstman, MD; Elsa Ronningstam, PhD; Mark Goldblatt, MD. (2018). Emerging Adults, Identity Development, and Suicidality: Implications for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 71:20-39, 2018.

Anton O. Kris, MD (2018). “Love’s Not Time’s Fool”: Some Continuities, Discontinuities, and Alterations in Psychoanalysis During My Lifetime. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 71:123-129, 2018.Paragraph

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