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Van Waning, A. (1991). 'To be the Best or not to Be, that is the Question …' on Enactment, Play and Acting out. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 72:539-550.

(1991). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 72:539-550

'To be the Best or not to Be, that is the Question …' on Enactment, Play and Acting out

Adeline Van Waning


When leafing through these pages, I feel as if I have just closed the door behind me after Harry has left the playroom. He has just made it clear to me, in words and deeds, that he thinks everything I say is rubbish. Yet, whatever these words of nonsense might have brought about, he is conspicuously relieved on leaving, after the free outpouring of his criticism: 'See you tomorrow!' …

Since this paper belongs to a series on the direct practice of psychoanalysis, as reflected in the daily analytic breath and pulse, you will be offered mainly 'undigested' raw material with verbatim reproduction of what analysand and analyst say, without extensive evaluations and theoretical reflections.

In order to structure the material to some extent, I made two basic choices: one concerning the content and one concerning the form in which the problems are expressed.

Regarding the content, the title of this paper indicates that we have to deal—in very general terms—with a narcissistic problem complex, the formation of conscience at the same time playing an important part in the development of this boy in the phase of latency. I shall concentrate on this aspect in my selection of material from Harry's analysis.

As to form, I have opted for a presentation in three parts, loosely connected with enacting, play and acting out respectively. Of course, these aspects cannot be sharply distinguished from each other in their occurrence, so that aspects of one form will also be observable in the examples of another.

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