Intersubjective Systems Theory

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Originally Published In

In E. D. Bland & B.D. Strawn (Eds.). Christianity and Psychoanalysis: A New Conversation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity.

Page Numbers



Unsurprisingly, given Sigmund Freud' s understanding of religion, the conversation between Christianity and psychoanalysis has long been marked by mutual suspicion. Psychoanalysis originated within a naturalist, post-Enlightenment context and sought to understand human functioning and pathology--focusing on phenomena such as the unconscious and object representation--on a strictly empirical basis. Given certain accounts of divine agency and human uniqueness, psychoanalytic work was often seen as competitive with a Christian understanding of the human person.

The contributors to Christianity and Psychoanalysis seek to start a new conversation. Aided by the turn to relationality in theology, as well as by a noncompetitive conception of God?s transcendence and agency, this book presents a fresh integration of Christian thought and psychoanalytic theory. The immanent processes identified by psychoanalysis need not compete with Christian theology but can instead be the very means by which God is involved in human existence. The Christian study of psychoanalysis can thus serve the flourishing of God?s kingdom.