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Aron, L. (2003). The Paradoxical Place of Enactment in Psychoanalysis: Introduction. Psychoanal. Dial., 13(5):623-631.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 13(5):623-631

The Paradoxical Place of Enactment in Psychoanalysis: Introduction

Lewis Aron, Ph.D.

Like So Many Psychoanalytic Ideas, Our Conceptualization of enactment is inherently paradoxical and contains an important tension that we are always in danger of losing. The clash is between defining enactment narrowly so that it maintains specific meaning and is thought to represent only episodic, discrete events, or defining it so broadly as to alert us to the ubiquity of unconscious interpersonal mutual influence and in so doing turning all of analysis into one huge enactment.

On one side, we are correct to ask, “What is not an enactment? Isn't all of psychoanalysis an extended enactment?” All the contributors to this symposium take for granted that enactments occur regularly in psychoanalysis, that enactments can be analytically productive, and that understanding the inevitability and usefulness of enactments should help analysts to feel less shameful and less guilty about finding themselves caught up in them.

Recognizing that speech is action and actions are forms of communication (for a brief history of this distinction, see Greenberg, 1996), we have largely come to accept the deconstruction of the sharp split between speech and action. Ferenczi was the most important pioneer in deconstructing the dichotomization of words and deeds (see Harris and Aron, 1997).

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