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What is the Second Perceptual Position?

This is the Perceptual Position of an 'other'. It's the walking, seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking, believing, etc., in another man's shoes. But it needn't be a man or even a human. Second position can be that of a painting or any other object, an animal, a tree, a fictional character, an archetype, a mythical being, even a mathematical principle, an idea, a piece of music, or anything from an atom to the entire Universe, so long as it is represented as 'other' than the 'you' in first position. It can even be another part of your own mind or body. (Anyone remember the old Reader's Digest stories with titles like, "I Am Joe's Foot"?) Second position raises some interesting philosophical questions, but we won't go into them here.

This position can be in direct communication with First Position. That is, if you adopted Second Position, and spoke to yourself in First Position, you would address yourself as 'you'.

The second position is the position of empathy – it means that you are “standing in other person’s shoes” and perceiving the world through their needs, desires, emotions and perceptions and watching the world and events taking their “map of the world” into account. It is also direct experience of a situation but from someone else’s position.

Someone, who lives their life primarily in second position, is always thinking about the other person at the expense of their own needs. Co-dependents or enablers in a dysfunctional or addiction situation would fit this description. A saying about co-dependents is: When a co-dependent dies, someone else’s life flashes before their eyes, rather than their own.

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