Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 70 Issue 2 (June 1997), Pages 113-207

Signs and voices: Joining a conversation in progress (pages 169-176)

This commentary joins a conversation between Ryle and Leiman, which represents a larger conversation among theories of psychotherapy, semiotics and linguistics. The emerging collaborative understanding involves viewing people not as separate, unitary individuals but as mosaics or communities of different voices. The voices share their experiences by sign‐mediated communication and engage in joint action. Projective identification may be considered as joint action mediated by non‐verbal signs exchanged without awareness, in which the dyad becomes an effector for voices within both participants. The concepts of active voices and meaning‐accumulating signs overcome the cognitive fallacy—the misleading notion that information in people is passive.

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