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Cohen, E. (2007). Enactments and Dissociations Driven by Cultural Differences. Am. J. Psychoanal., 67(1):22-29.

(2007). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 67(1):22-29

Enactments and Dissociations Driven by Cultural Differences1

Etty Cohen, Ph.D.

Cultural differences between the analytic dyad can foster powerful transference-counter-transference feelings and potentially promote traumatic re-enactments. Those patients who are more directly affected by traumatic experiences may be able to verbalize what has happened to them only if they are convinced that their analysts are “taking in their horror, holding it for them, responding to it emotionally (reenacting) and giving it back in more modulated and containable” manner (Davies, 1997, p. 24). These mutual enactments that emerge in patients and their analysts can be understood as dissociated self-states. Clinical material is presented from the treatment of an African-American inner-city teenager and an Israeli teenage soldier to illustrate the emergence of enactments and dissociation in patient-analyst dyads.

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