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Levinson, N.A. (2003). Panel on ‘Acting Out and/or Enactment’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 84(1):151-155.

(2003). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 84(1):151-155

Panel on ‘Acting Out and/or Enactment’

Reported by:
Nadine A. Levinson

Moderated by:
Rosine J. Perelberg

The moderator Rosine J. Perelberg welcomed the panel and audience. Setting a frame for the panel she raised the question, ‘Are acting out and enactment different or similar concepts?’ She briefly commented on Freud's view of acting out with regard to its transference manifestations and its being a way of remembering through repeating.

Maria Ponsi, the first panellist, approached the topic by posing the question, ‘Do these concepts have a distinctive place or is one of the two terms preferred to the detriment of the other?’ She noted that with a radical paradigm shift based on a relational, two-person perspective the concepts of enactment and acting out have grown apart in meaning. She defined the term ‘acting out’ as an actualisation of an impulse through motoric action, embedded in classical drive theory and a one-person psychology. The term ‘enactment’ theoretically referred to a two-person interpersonal episode and reflected the analyst's inevitable subjectivity and participation. It was seen as an opportunity rather than viewed as an obstacle to analysis.

Her patient who had been in analysis for two years called at the weekend to ask if her analyst would agree to the patient's decision to come to a party the next day where they would both attend. Not able to cover her astonishment Ponsi told the patient, I can't understand the meaning of this sudden request since we have never talked about this during the sessions.

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