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Rosen, H. (1992). On Enactment. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 40:1228-1229.

(1992). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 40:1228-1229

On Enactment

Helen Rosen, Ph.D.

August 24, 1991

With regard to the historical and etymological background of the term "enactment" (in McLaughlin, 1991), Minuchin (1974) was primarily responsible for its initial usage in psychotherapy literature in the context of family therapy. "Enactments" were, at times, encouraged between family members, in the presence of the therapist, so that the therapist could see the family "in action." In discussing the enactment of transactional patterns, he wrote, "There is considerable value in making the family enact instead of describe. To amplify his data, he must help them transact, in his presence, some of the ways in which they naturally resolve conflicts, support each other, enter into alliances and coalitions, or diffuse stress… Only then can he begin to understand the family structure that underlies the idiosyncratic behavior of its members" (p. 141).

As we become more attuned to psychoanalysis as a two-person psychology, it seems appropriate to me that a term such as "enactment," first finding favor in a systems model of therapy, should join our vocabulary as well.

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