The Child's Relations with Others.
Existential Analysis: Journal of the Society for Existential Analysis, 16(1) pp. 87–99.
In The Child's Relations with Others Merleau-Ponty (1964) criticises extant theories of child development and proposes a phenomenological alternative based on an embodied intersubjective development. Through this phenomenological examination of early child development Merleau- Ponty provides a profound challenge to classical dualist theories. Merleau- Ponty, following Wallon, argues that knowledge of ourselves, and others, is given through our interconnectedness. This paper seeks to outline and discuss Merleau-Ponty's developmental theory and argue that, not only do these insights challenge existing theories of child development, but they also provide a strong argument for further examination of the role of embodiment in psychotherapeutic theory and practice. In particular, I will suggest that, in the light of these arguments, existential-phenomenological practice fails to adequately account for the notion of the body-subject and needs to consider incorporating methods of enactment within the therapeutic process.
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