Recently, several psychologists have become interested in phenomena that are close to the notion that consciousness is a form of shared thinking. They study how a psychological impression often emerges out of a co-construction between several persons.16 Thus, to designate the appearance of the conscious thoughts that an infant constructs while interacting with his parents, Philippe Rochat speaks of co-consciousness.17 Given the first meaning of the word conscious, the notion of co-consciousness, such as Rochat uses it, is a pleonasm However, the pleonasm is necessary today as soon as we speak of something that is explicitly known by many people.
In psychotherapy, it is essential to distinguish between what an individual is conscious of and the conscious construction that is built between the psychotherapist and the patient. In analyzing a dream, the psychotherapist constructs, with the patient, a series of images that are associated to the way the patient experiences what is going on within and outside of himself. Experiencing in his own body the impact of the patient’s respiration, the body psychotherapist facilitates a dialogue that builds a representation of what the patient does to himself and others when he breathes in a particular fashion.
In this type of discussion, which is central in psychotherapy, it is essential to differentiate sharply the thoughts of the patient, the thoughts of the therapist, and the co-construction that is created thanks to the dialogue between the therapist and the patient. This co-construction emerges out of an attempt to coordinate the elements contained in the two individual organisms.18
The second common meaning of the French word conscience in the seventeenth century connotes having a good or bad conscience. It consists of a type of thought strongly influenced by the moral and religious value system of the culture in which a person lives. That is the meaning Descartes associates with the term consciousness the two times where he uses the word conscience.