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Skogstad, W. (2015). Speaking through Action, Acting through Speech: Acting and Enacting in the Analytic Process. Brit. J. Psychother., 31(2):191-206.

(2015). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 31(2):191-206

Theoretical and Clinical Practice

Speaking through Action, Acting through Speech: Acting and Enacting in the Analytic Process

Wilhelm Skogstad

In this paper the author looks at the significance of different forms of action in the psychoanalytic situation. He traces the development of related concepts, going back to Freud's early concept of a ‘symptomatic act’ and the introduction of his concept of ‘acting out’ with the Dora case, through to more modern and complex ideas of enactment. He shows that acting out can have a defensive as well as a communicative function. Actions can be a way of ‘speaking’ to the analyst, of communicating things that cannot be thought or put into words. On the other hand, speech itself can become an action rather than a form of symbolic communication, a way of putting pressure on the analyst to fit in with a projective phantasy. Important theoretical contributions to the concept of enactment, by Sandler, Joseph, Feldman and Tuckett, are described in some detail. Looking at Freud's Dora from such a perspective, the author argues that an enactment developed between Freud and his patient. Detailed clinical material is presented to show how the author uses these concepts in his own analytic work. Finally, the relationship between enactment and containment is discussed.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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