In his final contribution to the psychoanalytic literature published two months before his untimely death on December 21, 2000, the late Stephen A. Mitchell provided a brilliant synthesis of the interrelated ideas that hover around, and describe aspects of, the relational matrix of human experience. Relationality charts the emergence of the relational perspective in psychoanalysis by reviewing the contributions of Loewald, Fairbairn, Bowlby, and Sullivan, whose voices converge in apprehending the fundamental relationality of mind. Mitchell draws on the multiple dimensions of attachment, intersubjectivity, and systems theory in espousing a clinical approach equally notable for its responsiveness and
responsible restraint. Relationality "signals a new height in Mitchell's always illuminating writing" (Nancy Chodorow) and marks the "coming of age" of the relational perspective in psychoanalysis (Peter Fonagy).
“This particular volume, like so much of Mitchell’s work, is noteworthy for its sparkling originality and creativity. It is written with obvious care, great honesty, clarity, and structure. . . [It] exhibits many facets of Stephen Mitchell’s ability to create, interpret, and transmit psychoanalytic theory.”
- Mark Somerstein, Psychoanalytic Social Work
"Relationality imparts new theoretical depth, substance, and complexity to relational psychoanalysis, systematizing its different components and documenting how it has been saturated by various historical strands within psychoanalysis. It especially develop's Mitchell's sense of the fundamental contributions of Loewald, Fairbairn, and Bowlby. With Enormous respect and even-handed clarity, with often lyrical prose infused with warmth and humor, and with richly elaboraed clinical examples, this book comes from Mitchell's own heart yet shows his mind at its most creative, original, and integrative. It signals a new height in his always illuminating writing."
- Nancy J. Chodorow, Ph.D., Author, The Power of Feelings
"In this book the relational perspective 'comes of age.' Mitchell brings his supreme confidence in navigating psychoanalytic theories to bear on the evolution of the relational perspective. The relationality of mind is placed in the context of the psychoanalytic tradition and out of it evolves a highly satisfying and elegantly integrated approach tht is respectful of other traditions while casting them in a fresh light. The result is a compelling new psychoanalytic theory for he 21st Century. Relationality is a remarkable achievement of creative scholarship that should be read by every psychodynamic clinician concerned with human relatedness."
- Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis, University College London
"Stephen Mitchell's writing is always a delight and an education. In Relationality, with his characteristic lucidity, Mitchell explores the multiple dimensions and nuances of relationality, attachment, intersubjectivity, and systems theory. He shows the voices of Loewald, Fairbairn, Bowlby, Winnicott, and Sullivan converge and can be interwoven. His masterful and creative close reading on Loewald makes him accessible in a brand new way and could even stand on its own. Complementing Mitchell's theoretical erudition is a clinical responsiveness equally notable for its responsible restraint. He provides clinical examples of how to make use of ourselves and our spontaneity with respect to thoughtfulness, and he does so without endorsing an 'anything goes' mentality. Mitchell does far more than illuminate theory; in fresh and delightful ways, with grace and compassion, he illuminates people. For any course on relational theory this gem of a book should be at the top of the reading list."
- Susan Coates, Ph.D., Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research
Part I: From Ghosts to Ancestors: The Psychoanalytic Vision of Hans Loewald. Language and Reality. Drives and Objects. Part II: Levels of Organization. An Interactional Hierarchy. Attachment Theory and Relationality. Fairbairn's Object-Seeking: Between Paradigms. Intersubjectivity: Between Expressiveness and Restraint in the Analytic Relationship.
The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen A. Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, feminism, queer theory, sociocultural studies and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.
We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Adrienne Harris, Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. Committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts, he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and promoted new voices across the generations. Mitchell was later joined by the late Lewis Aron, also a visionary and influential writer, teacher and leading thinker in relational psychoanalysis.
Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, those that extend and develop that tradition, and works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast them with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts, along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision. Our aim is to enable a deepening of relational thinking while reaching across disciplinary and social boundaries in order to foster an inclusive and international literature.