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Collins, S. (2020). Psychic time as occasion for enactment. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(3):436-455.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(3):436-455

Psychic time as occasion for enactment

Sara Collins

The author focuses on enactments in the temporality of the analytic process, taking place around analytic breaks. Being part of the rhythm of psychoanalysis, breaks can be experienced as disruptions, with increased anxiety. Threats to the integrity of the frame provide points of vulnerability and challenge to containment that may result in enactment. This is especially so when related to the patient’s unique psychic time, touching on depth of disturbance that is unmetabolised and cannot find verbal expression. Enactments are discussed as representations of unconscious material, to be contained retrospectively by analytic thinking, at specific points of the patient’s psychic readiness. Only after an “unthought-out action” on the part of the analyst does he/she become alive to it. Guilt and shame are often experienced following enactments. These feelings can be utilised for understanding the enactment events and their underlying affects, in the intersubjective arena, potentially furthering the analytic process. A clinical illustration is presented of a mental enactment combined with a disruption to the frame around a break, which coalesced with the patient’s internal unique timing. Being an expression of the patient’s unconscious readiness for transformation, the enactment is understood as occasioned in the conjunction between psychic time and analytic time frame.

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