The Pain of Granting Otherness: Interoception and the Differentiation of the Other / Der Schmerz der Gewährung von Andersheit: Interozeption und die Differenzierung des Objekts

Open access


This article examines the foundations of social experience from a psychoanalytic perspective. In current developmental psychology, social cognition debate, and phenomenology of empathy, it is widely assumed that the self and the other are differentiated from the outset, and the basic challenge is accordingly taken to consist in explaining how the gap between the self and the other can be bridged. By contrast, in the psychoanalytic tradition, the central task is considered to lie in explaining how such a gap is established in the first place. My article develops this latter idea. I focus on the infant’s early experience of care, show how the presence of the caregiver can be interpreted in terms of an interoceptive experience, illustrate the gradual self/other differentiation from this perspective, and thus argue that the other is granted ‘otherness’ gradually. By emphasising this graduality, I challenge the assumption that self/other differentiation dominates the infant’s life from the outset. In this manner, I show how the psychoanalytic theory may be used in contesting one of the cornerstones of the current research paradigm.

Ainley, V., Tajadura-Jiménez, A., Fotopoulou, A., & Tsakiris, M. (2012). Looking into myself: The effect of self-focused attention on interoceptive sensitivity. Psychophysiology, 49(11), 1504-1508.

Bergmann, M. (1963). The place of Paul Federn’s ego psychology in psychoanalytic metapsychology. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 11, 97-116.

Blum, H. (1982). Theories of the self and psychoanalytic concepts: Discussion. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 30(4), 959-978.

Craig, B. (2002). How do you feel? Interoception: The sense of the physiological condition of the body. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 3, 655-666.

Craig, B. (2003). Interoception: The sense of the physiological condition of the body. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 13, 500-505.

Dondi, M., Simion, F., & Caltran, G. (1999). Can newborns discriminate between their own cry and the cry of another newborn infant? Developmental Psychology, 35(2), 418-426.

Farroni, T., Johnson, M., & Csibra, G. (2004). Mechanisms of eye gaze perception during infancy. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 16(8), 1320-1326.

Field, J. (1976). Relation of young infant’s reaching behavior to stimulus distance and solidity. Developmental Psychology, 12, 444-448.

Freud, S. (1923). Das Ich und das Es (Gesammelte Werke, Vol. 13, pp. 237-289). London, England: Imago Publishing.

Freud, S. (1930). Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (Gesammelte Werke, Vol. 14, pp. 421-506). London, England: Imago Publishing.

Freud, S. (1964). An outline of psycho-analysis and other works. In J. Strachey (Ed.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 23, pp. 141-196). London, England: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis.

Freud, S. (1974). Totem und Tabu. Einige Übereinstimmungen im Seelenleben der Wilden und der Neurotiker. In A. Mitscherlich (Ed.), Fragen der Gesellschaft. Ursprünge der Religion (Studienausgabe, IX) (pp. 287-444). Frankfurt am Main, Germany: S. Fischer.

Hägglund, S. (2014). The body as thought and reality. The Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 37(2), 107-112.

Hobson, P. (1999). Beyond cognition. A theory of autism. In P. Lloyd & C. Fernyhough (Eds.), Lev Vygotsky: Critical assessments (pp. 253-281). London, England: Routledge.

Hobson, P. (2008). Interpersonally situated cognition. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 16(3), 377-397.

Kohut, H. (1971). The analysis of the self. A systematic approach to the psychoanalytic treatment of narcissistic personality disorder. Chicago, MI & London, England: The University of Chicago Press.

Kohut, H. (1977). The restoration of the self. Chicago, MI & London, England: The University of Chicago Press.

Kohut, H. (2011). Four Basic Concepts in Self Psychology. In P. Ornstein (Ed.), The search for the self. Selected writings of Heinz Kohut: 1978-1981 (Vol. 4) (pp. 447-470). London, England: Karnac Books.

Mahler, M., Pine, F., & Bergman, A. (1975). The psychological birth of the human infant. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (2002). Phenomenology of perception. (C. Smith, Trans.). London, England/New York, NY: Routledge.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (2010). Child psychology and pedagogy. The Sorbonne lectures 1949-1952. (T. Welsh, Trans.). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Nagy, E. (2008). Innate intersubjectivity: Newborns’ sensitivity to communication disturbance. Developmental Psychology, 44(6), 1779-1784.

Reddy, V. (2008). How infants know minds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Rochat, P. (2004). Emerging co-awareness. In G. Bremner & A. Slater (Eds.), Theories of infant development (pp. 258-283). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Rochat, P, Goubet, N., & Senders, S. (1999). To reach or not to reach? Perception of body effectivities by young infants. Infant and Child Development, 8, 129-148.

Sandler, J. (1987). The concept of projective identification. In J. Sandler (Ed.), Projection, identification, projective identification (pp. 13-26). London, England: Karnac Books.

Spitz, R. (1955). The primal cavity. A contribution to the genesis of perception and its role for psychoanalytic theory. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 10, 215-240.

Spitz, R. (1965). The first year of life. A psychoanalytic study of normal and deviant development of object-relations. New York, NY: International Universities Press.

Stern, D. (1983). The early development of schemas of self, other, and ‘self with other’. In J. Lichtenberg & S. Kaplan (Eds.), Reflections on self psychology (pp. 49-84). Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press.

Stern, D. (1985). The interpersonal world of the infant. A view from psychoanalysis and developmental psychology. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Stern, D. (2002). The first relationship. Infant and mother. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Tähkä, V. (1993). Mind and its treatment. A psychoanalytic approach. Madison, WI: International Universities Press.

Taipale, J. (2013). Facts and fantasies. Embodiment and the early formation of selfhood. In R. Jensen & D. Moran (Eds.), The phenomenology of embodied subjectivity (pp. 241-262). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.

Taipale, J. (2014a). The bodily feeling of existence in phenomenology and psychoanalysis. In S. Heinämaa, M. Hartimo, & T. Miettinen (Eds.), Phenomenology and the transcendental (pp. 218-234). New York, NY: Routledge

Taipale, J. (2014b). Phenomenology and embodiment. Husserl and the constitution of subjectivity. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Taipale, J. (2015). ‘Similarity and asymmetry. Husserl and the transcendental foundations of empathy’. Phänomenologische Forschungen, 2014(2015), 141-154.

Taipale, J. (2016a). ‘Self-regulation and beyond. Affect regulation and the infant-caregiver dyad’. Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers in Psychology, 7(889), 1-13. doi:

Taipale, J. (2016b). Social mirrors. Tove Jansson’s Invisible Child and the importance of being seen. Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 39(1), 13-25.

Tajadura-Jiménez, A., & Tsakiris, M. (2014). Balancing the ‘inner’ and the ‘outer’ self: Interoceptive sensitivity modulates self-other boundaries. Journal of Experimental Psychology- General, 143(2), 736-744.

Winnicott, D. (1964). The child, the family, and the outside world. London, England: Penguin Books.

Winnicott, D. (1965a). The family and individual development. London, England: Routledge.

Winnicott, D. (1965b). The maturational processes and the facilitating environment. New York, NY: International Universities Press.

Winnicott, D. (1971). Playing and reality. London, England and New York, NY: Routledge.

Winnicott, D. (1984). Through pediatrics to psychoanalysis. Collected papers. London, England: Karnac Books.

Winnicott, D. (1986). Home is where we start from. Essays by a psychoanalyst. C. Winnicott, R. Shepherd & M. Davis (Eds.), London, England: Penguin Books.

Wolff, P. (1966). The causes, controls, and organization of behavior in the neonate. Psychological Issues, 5(1), 1-105.

Gestalt Theory

An International Multidisciplinary Journal

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 300 245 25
PDF Downloads 180 162 10