Poiesis in/between the Transferential Matrix: Insight, Imagination and the Relational Interpretation

Manakas, Emmanouil. 2017. Poiesis in/between the Transferential Matrix: Insight, Imagination and the Relational Interpretation. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The most important question for the Psychoanalytic Process Research is presumably what Mitchell calls the problem of “bootstrapping” the transferential matrix: how do the members of the dyad manage to disengage from being ‘heard’ according to old or unsuitable affective categories? On the grounds of a bi-phasic Conceptual and in-depth Analysis of the Psychoanalytic Complexity literature, I construct a minimal model of the psychoanalytic process as a theoretical context for conducting Process Research. According to the ‘story’ that I have read in the literature four main themes describe the process: a) the gradual emergence of a ‘phenomenological’ language that facilitates the flow of experience, b) the coupling, synchronicity and coordination of analyst and analysand, in ‘phase’ and ‘anti-phase’ at several levels, c) the shifting of the mental states and the thin and delicate slicing and sampling of experience that actualizes the emergence of mental objects and finally, d) Scaling that involves all those ‘mental’ processes that correct for the excesses or the deficiencies that are made evident during the shifting of mental states. Experience is generated as we ‘couple and shift’, and generative tensions appear as we ‘scale’ through this coupling and shifting process. Enactments, role-responsive transferences and countertransferences, testing of the transference and alliance or communication ruptures appear as coupled oscillating patterns that have both a repetitive and a developmental dynamic.

Regarding the question of how we should study ‘Coupling, Shifting and Scaling’ I propose the adoption of an Enactivist epistemological framework which perceives the mind not as the workings of a representational machine but as a living process and the expression of an embodied living organism which in a “precarious” state of “needful freedom” (Jonas, in Thompson, 2007) strives to make sense of its environment. On the grounds of this framework I defend the view that we should study Scaling as an expression of the ‘radical dialogicality’ of the human mind that underlies the ‘structuring of experience’. I examine this ‘radical dialogicality’ at the level of inter-hemispheric differences, psychopathology and the enactive structuring of experience and the horizon of affective affordances in the clinical process.

Finally, on the grounds of this conceptual analysis and its application to a case-study, I try to defend the view that, adopting relevant “dialogical” and micro-analytic methodological tools, we can achieve an appropriate level of ‘resolution’ so as to study “bootstrapping” at the moment-to-moment shifts in the experiential states or the shifts in attitudes that appear at bifurcation points in the system’s evolution. Through Scaling, the clinical dyad strives for a “maximum grip” of those experiential dimensions that carry the potential to expand the shared reality as a generative field and engage those surfaces of experience that bridge lost connections and separations, by fractalizing the dimensionality of the generative space. A detailed examination of the Scaling processes may bring us closer to a better understanding of the problem of “bootstrapping”.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Additional Information:

This is an edited version of the thesis with third-party copyright material removed.


Bootstrapping, Psychoanalytic Process Research, Psychoanalytic Complexity, Dynamic Systems Theory, Enactivism, Dialogicality, Meaning-Making

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)


31 July 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

30 Aug 2017 11:53

Last Modified:

12 Sep 2022 11:15



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