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Kenny, E. (2013). “Action” in Psychoanalysis: A Comparison between Adult and Adolescent Analysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 61(4):787-803.

(2013). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 61(4):787-803

Panel Report

“Action” in Psychoanalysis: A Comparison between Adult and Adolescent Analysis

Edward Kenny

In Plato's allegory of the cave, human cave-dwellers perceive only shadows of actors and action occurring beyond the threshold of the cave. Barred from direct observation, they nonetheless glean an idea of the outside forms. Plato analogized this situation to our limitations in comprehending the eternal forms that he said embodied truth and beauty. This report is itself a kind of shadow play, a paradoxical effort to both capture and obscure the forms and movements of the panel on action held at the 2012 Winter Meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association. The unobstructed focus of the panel was the graphic process material of consecutive analytic sessions from treatments conducted by David Ott and Ruth Graver. Just one step shy of full-color video, the vivid treatment dialogues were framed and theorized by Karen Gilmore, Eslee Samberg, and Mark Smaller. By design, Ott and Graver did not disclose their personal reactions or the overall narrative arc of the treatments; rather, they performed dramatic moments of the action, akin to a movie preview. With regret, I must withhold certain details of their rich process material to guard the privacy of the analysands, particularly in the case presented by Graver. Nevertheless, I will attempt to trace a fine line between complete obscurity and too telling revelation in an effort to sketch the action for the reader. In addition, I will include comments from my own perspective—influenced by the work of Kernberg and other object relations theorists—along with suggestions for future consideration.

In her succinct yet comprehensive framing remarks, Karen Gilmore outlined the rationale for showing just the raw work and focusing on action as the theme for the panel.

[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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