The experience of being understood: A phenomenological-structural analysis

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Prilleltensky, Isaac, 1959-
Lobel, Thalma

Prilleltensky, I., Lobel, Thalma E. (1987). The Experience of Being Understood: A Phenomenological-Structural Analysis. Multivariate Experimental Clinical Research, 8(2), 221-238.


The research on Interpersonal Understanding, until now, was done mainly through the concept of Empathy. In spite of the many theoretical and empirical research studies done on empathy, a content and structural definition of this term has not been reached until now. Interpersonal Understanding is composed of two feelings: 1 - understanding the other, 2 - being understood by the other. Two studies were designed to explore the reactions to "being understood." The first study described the feelings of this experience by a phenomenological method and thirteen categories of content were discovered to be indispensable and obligatory composers of the experience "being understood." A "Cilindrex" three dimensional structure of the investigated phenomenon was obtained by the INDSCAL method in study II. This structure is composed of three facets that were interpreted in terms of: 1 - A state of power that is enhanced by the understood person's feelings (weakness or strength); 2 - Quality of feeling (basic or elevated); 3 - Focus of feeling (intrapersonal or interpersonal). It was also found that these facets characterize each one, respectively, the feelings of being understood by: 1 - parents, 2 - friends and 3 - couple. Tentative answers have been given to these differences. The discussion points out to the firstness of the experience of being understood and its importance as an agent of essential psychological human need.

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