Abstract. The relationship between inner and outer worlds is explored. A wide range of experiences, including realistic perception and aesthetic experiences, can be understood as transitional phenomena as described by Donald W. Winnicott, in the sense that they are characterized by resonance between inner structures and external inputs. Winnicott suggested that one should refrain from insisting on a one-sided answer to the question of whether one has created the experience or finds it present in external reality. It is also argued that both certain forms of psychopathology as well as certain philosophical positions entail a one-sided "solution" to the tension between inner and outer worlds. Finally, it is suggested that psychoanalytic theories need to resist the temptation to offer a one-sided answer, and to this regard the approaches of Roy Schafer, Donald Spence, and Richard Geha, that are based on the construction of narratives, are critically discussed. Psychoanalytic theories need to live with the tension, and try to find ways to integrate these two realms of existence. (This paper was read on May 6, 1994, as Erikson Lecture at the Austen Riggs Center of Stockbridge, Massachusetts).
Keywords: Inner and outer worlds; Constructivism; Reality principle; Winnicott; Transitional experience