Phenomenological Reviews

Series | Book | Chapter


On meta-representation

the theoretical and practical consequences of intentionality

Ian R Owen

pp. 213-224


This chapter concludes on pure psychology co-ordinating empirical psychology and psychotherapy around meaningfulness. The aim is applying pure psychology ideals to interpret meaningful experiences, relationships, speech and other psychological objects. Precision is required to know how to interpret and apply the universals noted above in specific instances. This chapter explains meta-representation that was implied above but is now made explicit. Meta-representation in this context is not just about empathy and apperception but refers to the ability to make psychological understanding to support discussion and action between professionals, or professionals and the public who only have natural attitude understandings of their own processes. It is possible for people to mis-understand or draw a blank in understanding themselves. Meta-representation helps people understand the presence of possibilities, hypothetical and counterfactual alternatives that human beings are often directed towards or away from outcomes that are non-existent and not perceptually present in the now. The order of approach below starts with defining meta-representation and then explaining how frames or contexts of understanding are held in mind and compared. The distinctions of map, cartography, territory and orienteering are used. What is presented below is an all inclusive relationship between a reflective stance and what is reflected on that takes the previous ideas on meta-awareness and meta-cognition and uses them to outline the important implicit being of what happens in understanding any object of attention. To do this the idea of map and territory is invoked as a narrative for psychological understanding itself. The chapter returns to the position of Chap. 4 to re-use and generalise what was stated there to apply psychological hermeneutics and interpret objects of attention in any context. What this chapter sums up is how the universal and formal understandings stated in Parts I and II can be used for interpreting psychological problems and understanding individuals in their contexts. The comments of this chapter are preparatory to worked examples and the discussion of formulation below.

Publication details

Published in:

Owen Ian R (2015) Phenomenology in action in psychotherapy: on pure psychology and its applications in psychotherapy and mental health care. Dordrecht, Springer.

Pages: 213-224

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-13605-9_11

Full citation:

Owen Ian R (2015) On meta-representation: the theoretical and practical consequences of intentionality, In: Phenomenology in action in psychotherapy, Dordrecht, Springer, 213–224.