Agency in Psychoanalytic Theory
Title: Agency as a Psychoanalytic Idea
Author: Joseph Caston
Abstract: Competent agency is a basic assumption of psychoanalytic change. Yet as an aspect of health, personal agency has in the main been only intuitively addressed and remains clinically unsystematized. Here experience-near and observer-centered criteria are developed that assess a personas-agent’s competence in particular domains. These ideas, clinically illustrated, stand as an operational framework that helps thinking and talking about agency in everyday clinical events and psychoanalytic outcomes. Three specific criteria are proposed: reversibility, self-observation, and appropriateness. The first is descriptively polar; together the three apply to each given context of action. They can also serve to ground future research. In this regard, several empirical psychoanalytic studies of adults and children that exemplify measurable aspects of agency are reviewed. Once clinical markers of personal agency are articulated, it will not be necessary to resolve the free will debate: pragmatically, we need only put such distinctions to work.
Which Identities Matter?
“Following V. D. Miller, Allen, Casey, and Johnson (2000) and Cheney (1983), we seek to characterize, rather than simply quantify, participants’ understandings of their attachments to group, organization,
and profession and the stresses associated with those attachments.”
Dilemmas in Qualitative Interviews
“The paper explores some of the emotional and ethical tensions in analysing and presenting research results and briefly discusses some implications for research training.”
Stories in Organizations
“This conceptual piece generates additional insight into the topic of narrative by focusing on stories that are repeated in organizations, which we believe adds to theory in several ways.”