The contextual subject

The idea of “contextual subject”, introduced to the human sciences by Bateson in the Thirties, distinguishes the tradition in which our model is rooted. It is an idea of a person that challenges a Western premise unquestioned until recently: the idea that the true essence of individuals is identified with something “internal” and separated from all others, “outside” human beings. Bateson overturns this individualistic premise to give substance to the thesis that mental processes are constructed by individuals in interaction.

Human beings not only need others to live, grow and reproduce, but they cannot even think or feel in solitude. Emotions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs and other mental representations are constructed in a multi-voiced dialogue, made up of gestures, physical contacts, even more than words. The mind does not coincide with the brain, mental processes and knowledge develop in interaction and dialogue. Systemic psychotherapies were the first to have placed the contextual subject at the center of their approach and they derive their specificity from this idea of an individual in dialogue.