Attentive Intuition

  • Gianfranco D'Ingegno Italian Center of Analytical Psychology


It all starts from here: “pay attention to your internal world, that is, your thoughts, your fantasies, your emotions, your dreams and so on”. The analyst does not give the patient many indications other than this. Evidently, attention is not an accessory in the analytical process but rather represents one of the foundations on which the patient’s path of psychic transformation begins and revolves. In this sense, attention is both what makes analysis possible, and what undergoes a profound change from the analysis in qualitative terms. Referring to an article on the subject by Bruno Callieri entitled “Phenomenological aspects of attention” (Callieri 1997-1998), we can in fact distinguish different forms of attention. This distinction is represented by the different mental structure: attention that goes towards the active search for its object; attention that is concentrated around itself; and finally a form of “pathic attention”, of pure observation, that does not wait for anything in particular. Precisely because of this condition of passivity, it is capable of letting itself be struck at the right moment. In the same way, Freud and Bion, respectively with the concept of “free-floating attention” and “listening without memory or desire”, suggested to the analyst the assumption of a mental disposition that is without guidance, and capable of staying in the present. Consciousness inhabits the present but there seems to be no trace of this very brief moment that comes before being, since attention tends to saturate the unknown by re-proposing what is already familiar, thus guaranteeing a sense of continuity. Yet, it is precisely in the present that experience can be denied and we can find ourselves faced with indefinite and undefinable things once and for all, rather than known or knowable objects. Therefore, to facilitate the transition of consciousness from the object to the thing, the Ego retreats to settle on a pure observational function. It favours the appearance of other secondary complexes, in a Jungian-oriented psychic perspective, and it is capable of intercepting more subtle aspects of the experience. Such attention continues until it is shaken by the sudden emergence of intuition which, in Jung’s words, represents a direct perception of the unconscious. If thought is a construction of consciousness that reflects its spatio-temporal characteristics, intuition conversely presents itself as the irruption of that which has a psychoid nature. Its foundation is in a source in which the experience is syncretic, affectively and sensorially connoted, and which would give the Ego something to think about. Intuition would therefore be offered to the Ego as a free event brought about by careful waiting, as in a double systolic and diastolic movement, opposite but complementary. Some excellent examples can be traced back to this dynamics, such as Minkowski’s concepts of diagnosis by penetration and Lacan’s logical time, which respectively capture man in his being and his becoming.


Download data is not yet available.


Bergson H. (1954). Materia e memoria. Bari: Laterza, 2021.
Bergson H. (1959). Œuvres. Éditions du Centenaire. Paris: PUF.
Bion W. (1962). Apprendere dall’esperienza. Roma: Astrolabio, 2019.
Caci M. (2010). Il concetto di intuizione in Henri Bergson e Carl Gustav Jung. Psichiatria e Psicoterapia, 29(3): 189-200.
Callieri B. (1997-98) Per un’inquieta fenomenologia dell’attenzione. Informazione psicologia psicoterapia psichiatria, 32-33, (sett. 1997-apr. 1998): 2–15.
Fedida P. (2007). Umano/Disumano. Roma: Borla, 2009.
Freud S. (1895). Studi sull’isteria e altri scritti. In Opere di Sigmund Freud. A cura di C. Musatti. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri, 1977, vol. 1.
Freud S. (1912a). Casi clinici e altri scritti. In Opere di Sigmund Freud. A cura di c. Musatti. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri, 1989, vol. 6.
Freud S. (1919). Il perturbante. In Opere di Sigmund Freud. A cura di C. Musatti. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri, vol. 9.
Heidegger M. (1927). Essere e tempo. Milano: Longanesi 2005.
Jung C. G. (1934-54). Gli archetipi dell’inconscio collettivo. In Opere di Carl Gustav Jung. Torino: Boringhieri, 1980, vol. 9.
Jung C. G. (1934-54). Considerazione generali sulla teoria dei complessi. In Opere di Carl Gustav Jung, cit.
Jung C. G. (1947-54). Riflessioni teoriche sull’essenza della psiche. In Opere di Carl Gustav Jung, Torino: Bollati Boringhieri, 1980, vol. 8.
Jung C. G. (1969). Definizioni. In Opere di Carl Gustav Jung. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri, 1981, vol. 6.
Lacan J. (1945). Il Tempo logico o l’asserzione di certezza anticipata. Torino: Einaudi, 2002.
Lacan J. (1964). Seminario XI. Torino: Einaudi, 2003.
Leoni F. (2020). Eugene Minkowski. In A. Molaro, G. Stanghellini G., Storia della fenomenologia clinica. Novara: UTET, 69–83.
Marozza M.I. (2012). Jung dopo Jung. Saggi Critici. Bergamo: Moretti & Vitali, 184–187, 268–273.
Minkowski E. (1933). Il tempo vissuto: fenomenologia e psicopatologia. Torino: Einaudi, 2004, 208–255.
Sartre J.-P. (1943). L'essere e il nulla. Milano: il Saggiatore, 1970.
Tellenbach H. (1968). L’aroma del mondo. Milano: Marinotti edizioni, Milano 2013.
Waldenfels B. (2006). Fenomenologia dell’estraneo. Milano: Raffaello Cortina Editore, 2008.
How to Cite
D’Ingegno, G. (2023). Attentive Intuition. Critical Hermeneutics, 7(1), 75-90.