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Daniel N. Stern: The Present Moment. Norton 2004

Daniel N. Stern: The Present Moment. Norton 2004


A stunningly fundamental book. Full of insight, suggestive perspectives, inspiring crystallizations. A research-based account of the psychology of the present moment with far-reaching consequences for our concept of ourselves, for intersubjectivity and for philosophy of life.

Key concepts: subjective experience, experience as it is lived, the moment of meeting, microanalytic interview, implicit knowledge, temporal dynamics, vitality affects, the present moment, the now moment, a lived story, intentions, intentional-feeling-flow, the intersubjective matrix, the mutual interpenetration of minds, mirror neurons, conscousness, intersubjective consciousness, sharing, intersubjective orienting, sloppiness in cocreation, the moving along process, a shared feeling voyage, change.

"This book is about subjective experience - especially experiences that lead to change.... The idea of presentness is the key." (p. xiii)

"Present moments are holistic happenings." (p. 35) 

"The notion of vitality affects has been around in various forms for a while, but to my knowledge it has not yet been seriously picked up by the clinical, behavioral, or neurosciences, even though such notions go far in helping us understand phenomenal experience as it unfolds, as it is remembered, and as it is networked." (p. 37)

"Recall that much of our subjective mental activity is polyphonic and polyrhytmic even when we are alone, let alone interacting with someone." (p. 38) 

"A present moment contains the essential elements to compose a lived story. This is a special kind of story because it is lived as it happens, not as it is put into words afterwards." (p. 55)

"First, the child must be able to parse and format his or her experience into the narrative format - into a lived story. This occurs very early, before language, well before 18 months of life. The central idea is that infants, early in preverbal life, tend to parse and experience the human world in terms of intentions, as do adults." (p. 55) 

"The present moment carries within its brief existence a lived story, a sort of ´world in a grain of sand´." (p. 58) 

"A feeling-flow of intentionality runs through the present moment. Once a fresh present is before us, its intentionality starts to unfold during its second on stage." ... The present moment is going somewhere." (p. 60)

Notice how fundamental this point is from the point of view of Systems Intelligence. The next crystallization captures some of the key elements of my own methodology and pedagogy:

"The feeling quality of vitality affects is best captured by kinetic terms such as, surging, fading away, fleeting, explosive, tentative, effortful, accelerating, decelerating, climaxing, bursting, drawn out, reaching, hesitating, leaning forward, leaning backward, and so on." (p. 64)

"Vitality affects are part of what has been missing in our psychologies. We have been surprisingly blind to temporal dynamics, especially micro-temporal dynamics..." (p. 70) 

"Nature has designed our brain and mind so that we can directly intuit others' possible intentions by watching their goal-directed actions (even without knowing the goal)." (p. 76)

"When we put all this together, a certain intersubjective world emerges. We no longer see or minds as so independent, separate, and isolated. We are no longer sole owners, masters, and guardians of our subjectivity." (p. 77)

"Two minds create intersubjectivity. But equally, intersubjectivity shapes the two minds." (p. 78) 

"The result is that from birth on, one can speak of a psychology of mutually sensitive minds." (p. 85)

"Intersubjectivity is a condition of humanness. I will suggest that it is also an innate, primary system of motivation, essential for species survival, and has a status like sex or attachment." (p. 97)"The solution I propose here involves a new form of consciousness that I will call intersubjective consciousness." (p. 125)

"Am I giving action (or joint action) precedence over thought? Yes and no. Such a question makes no sense from the contemporary perspective of an embodied mind and the capacity for other-centered-participation." (p. 145) 

"The sloppiness of the process throws new, unexpected, often messy elements into the dialogue. But these are used to create new possibilities. Sloppiness is not to be avoided or regretted but rather is necessary to understand the almsot unlimited cocreativity of the moving along process." (p. 158) 

"When we focus at the local level made up of present moments, a different clinical sensibility arises. One becomes more aware of small events, especially nonverbal and implicit events." (p. 223) 

 

Kirjoitti Esa Saarinen, 03.04.2007

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