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Sapisochin MD, G. (2020). Response to commentaries by John Steiner and Ralph Zwiebel on my paper “Enactment: Listening to psychic gestures”. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(4):809-810.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(4):809-810

Response to commentaries by John Steiner and Ralph Zwiebel on my paper “Enactment: Listening to psychic gestures”

Gabriel Sapisochin MD

I agree with Dr Zwiebel’s view that any reading of a text involves a translation of the author’s words into the reader’s own language. In that sense, I value the attempts by John Steiner (2019) and Ralph Zwiebel (2020) to translate my text into their own metapsychological and clinical language. The risk of translating one model to another is always that, as the Italian aphorism goes, the traduttore, inadvertently, becomes a traditore to the author’s original thought. For this reason, I wish to clarify certain points.

I believe that Dr Steiner, in attempting to translate my ideas into the post-Kleinian dialect, has disregarded the originality of my assumptions by failing to enter into the uncertain and unknown territory of what I am proposing. Because psychic gestures are indeed far removed from the Kleinian conceptualization of “unconscious phantasy”. If I may, I would say that psychic gestures are in fact the negative of unconscious phantasy. Both are in my view similar in being non-verbal registrations of emotion. However, their genesis differs in the two cases: it is intersubjective in the case of psychic gestures, and internal and drive-related in that of Kleinian phantasy. A fundamental difference concerns the specificity of expression through the enacted in a psychic gesture (Sapisochin 2019, 889).

Therefore, when John Steiner equates psychic gestures to enactment, unconscious phantasy and the work of projective identification, he disregards that which is unique to my proposal: the conceptualization of a kind of psychic register, which I have termed psychic gesture, whose specific form of presentation in the analytic stage takes place via that which is enacted by the analytic pair.

[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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