IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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border of the ego and is warded off. With every recurrence, the painful feeling affects the ego with the same intensity and traumatic effect. The distinction between “happenings” and “experiences” was addressed previously by Winnicott in “The Fear of Breakdown” (1974) -- a breakdown that happened in early infancy but had not been experienced. Indirectly relevant may be also Bion’s theory of thinking (Bion, 1962), whereby during the period of infancy when psyche and soma are as-yet indistinguishable from each other, raw sensory impressions/beta elements are recorded in the body and are contended with by bodily means until psychic representation is made possible with the help of the maternal containing alpha function. In Mitrani’s view, such an ‘ unmentalized happening ’ of felt but not suffered pain, registered on a sensual or bodily level, which has yet to be assigned any symbolic meaning, may be at the root of many enactments in analysis. When the analyst makes good use of enactments, the body gets a second chance to become symbolically represented as it enters into relationships of meaning with other psychic representations. The neurobiological perspective on the body’s role in enactment via somatic memories has been researched and reviewed, for example, by Van der Kolk and Van der Hart (1991). Their discussion ranges from the early, related neurobiological ideas of Janet and Freud up to the present hypotheses of somatic encoding in the brain of traumatic memories. For the Relational School, enactment is a central concept in the theory of the psyche and in understanding therapeutic action in clinical analysis. Active in the US since the 1980s, relational theorists such as Anthony Bass describe their approach thus: “Contemporary relational approaches have been in large measure defined … by their emphasis on the qualities of joint participation: interaction, intersubjectivity, and mutual impact derived from the complementary, mutually shaping interplay of transference and countertransference. These phenomena may be most stunningly manifest—with all the power of their grip on the unconscious—in negotiating the process of what can frequently seem like the minefields of enactment…” (Bass, 2003, p. 658). Irwin Hoffman (1994) describes dialectical thinking as part of this approach and examines, for example, the technical implications for the analyst's authority, mutuality, and authenticity of the patient’s unique capacity for unconscious interactions. For Bromberg (1998, 2006), the mind is a landscape of multiple shifting self states. Enactment in the treatment situation is the way to access previously inaccessible content of sequestered self states. According to Bromberg (2006), Bass (2003), Hoffman (1994) and Mitchell (1997), it is in keeping with the relational tradition that the analysts consult their own shifting self states for clues about what is transpiring in their patients. Enactment is also central to the intersubjective systems approach. This approach was developed by Robert Stolorow et al. in the late 1980s and illuminates interpersonal aspects of the relational approach to treatment. In the intersubjective approach, enactments are seen as evolving from dissociated relational states, representing interpersonal communication from a patient’s early encoded neural experiences and traumata. The intersubjective school is inspired


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