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Varga, M.P. (2006). A Clinical Approach to Transforming Enactment. Psychoanal. Rev., 93(3):411-435.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Review, 93(3):411-435

A Clinical Approach to Transforming Enactment

Michael P. Varga, Ph.D.

An earlier paper (Varga, 2005) developed the thesis that despite the current multiplicity of schools, the unifying core of all psychoanalytic approaches remains Freud's foundational project, resolving psychopathology via analysis of transference. The obstacles to perceiving this have been twofold. On the one hand, there is the ongoing split between the Freudian and interpersonal/relational approaches. On the other hand, there is the proliferation of developmental models of psychopathology and practice. The earlier paper addressed both of these obstacles to perceiving the unifying core by redefining analysis of transference as transformation of enactment. Employing the insight of the interpersonal/relational schools that the analytic situation is inherently one of coparticipation in a relationship, transference is more fully understood as not just intrapsychic projection of pathological ideas and feelings onto the figure of the analyst, but, rather, as the analyst's necessary participation in the patient's pathogenic ways of relating via unconscious enactment in their relationship. The recognition that the analyst transforms the patient's psychopathology through participation in it, rather than analyzes it from an external position, integrates the Freudian and interpersonal/relational schools, as well as addresses weaknesses inherent in each approach. With regard to the Freudian school, there is the correction of clinical, relational, and epistemological difficulties flowing from the illusory view that the analyst can relate to the patient as a nonparticipatory external observer.

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