Mikael Leiman
University of Joensuu, Finland

E-mail:mikael.leiman@joensuu.fi

 

THE OBSERVING I AS A SEMIOTIC POSITION

 

Bakhtinian dialogism has inspired the conception of dialogical self mainly by the notion of polyphony. So far Bakhtin and Voloshinov's semiotic notions have not received much attention in the analysis of personality. Psychotherapy represents a specific 'laboratory' in which the I-position as a semiotically mediated structure can be studied. The concept of semiotic position, originally introduced by John Shotter, will be presented. The development of self-understanding in psychotherapy will be conceived of as an emerging I-position, called the 'observing I'. It has, originally, a dyadic structure. The therapist's responsive understanding and the creation of shared signs are its first building blocks. The client internalizes the joint dialogue and its semiotic 'tools' in the course of psychotherapy. This process of internalization and its complexity varies from client to client, depending on the nature of their problems and the initial integration of their personality.