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  1. Involving or occurring between separate conscious minds.
  2. Accessible to or capable of being established for two or more subjects.

Related terms

Extensive Definition

Intersubjectivity is something which is shared by two or more subjects.


Intersubjectivity is "The sharing of subjective states by two or more individuals." (Scheff 2006)
The term is used in three ways.
  1. Firstly, in its weakest sense it is used to refer to agreement. There is said to be intersubjectivity between people if they agree on a given set of meanings or definition of the situation.
  2. Secondly, and somewhat more subtly it has been used to refer to the "common-sense," shared meanings constructed by people in their interactions with each other and used as an everyday resource to interpret the meaning of elements of social and cultural life. If people share common sense, then they share a definition of the situation
  3. Thirdly, the term has been used to refer to shared (or partially shared) divergences of meaning. Self-presentation, lying, practical jokes, and social emotions, for example, all entail not a shared definition of the situation, but partially shared divergences of meaning. Someone who is telling a lie is engaged in an intersubjective act because they are working with two different definitions of the situation. Lying is thus genuinely inter-subjective (in the sense of operating between two subjective definitions of reality).
Intersubjectivity emphasizes that shared cognition and consensus is essential in the shaping of our ideas and relations. Language is viewed as communal rather than private. Hence it is problematic to view the individual as partaking in a private world, which is once and for all defined.
Intersubjectivity is today an important concept in modern schools of psychotherapy, where it has found application to the theory of the interrelations between analyst and analysand.

Intersubjectivity in psychoanalysis

Among the early authors who use in psychoanalysis this conception, in explicit or implicit way, we can mention , Heinz Kohut, Robert Stolorow, George E. Atwood, Jessica Benjamin in United States and Silvia Montefoschi in Italy. Adopting an intersubjective perspective in psychoanalysis means, above all, to give up what Robert D. Stolorow defines “the myth of isolate mind”.
In the last 20 years a new direction in psychoanalysis often referred to as relational psychoanalysis or just relational theory has developed. A central person is Daniel Stern . Empirically, the intersubjective school is inspired by research on infants non-verbal communication . A main issue is how central relational issues is communicated at a very fast pace in a non-verbal fashion. They also stress the importance of real relationships with two eualent partners. The journal Psychoanalytic Dialogues is devoted to relational psychoanalysis.


Further reading


Intersubjectivity in psychoanalysis
  • Laplanche, J. & Pontalis, J. B. (1974). The Language of Psycho-Analysis, Edited by W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0-393-01105-4
Intersubjectivity and philosophy
  • Edmund Husserl Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität. Texte aus dem Nachlass 1905-1920
  • Edmund Husserl Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität. Texte aus dem Nachlass 1921-1928
  • Edmund Husserl ''Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität. Texte aus dem Nachlass 1929-1935

Online papers about intersubjectivity theory in psychoanalysis

Intersubjectivity and philosophy:


  • Beebe, B. and Lackhmann, F. (2002): "Infant Research and Adult Treatment. Co-constructing Interactions". The Analytic Press.
  • Scheff, Thomas et al. (2006). Goffman Unbound!: A New Paradigm for Social Science (The Sociological Imagination), Paradigm Publishers (ISBN 978-1594511967).
  • Stern, D. (2004): "The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life". Norton Books.

External links

intersubjective in German: Intersubjektivität
intersubjective in Spanish: intersubjetividad
intersubjective in Italian: Intersoggettività
intersubjective in Dutch: Intersubjectiviteit
intersubjective in Swedish: Intersubjektivitet
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