Presenter, Gil Katz, Ph.D.

The concept of “enactment” continues to occupy a prominent place in today’s psychoanalytic thinking and practice. Despite being a central concept within and across all psychoanalytic theories and traditions, it continues to have no agreed upon definition. While the word “enactment” suggests an episodic or discrete event, and discussions in the literature tend to emphasize the behavioral component of the phenomenon, its essence is an underlying, dynamically meaningful, unconscious process. Within what I call the enacted dimension of analytic process, a part of every treatment, a new version of the patient’s early conflicts, traumas, and formative object relationships is inevitably created, without awareness or intent, in the here-and-now of the analytic dyad. Within this “play within the play,” repressed or dissociated aspects of the patient’s past are not just remembered, they are re-lived. When these actualizations become available for conscious reflection, they form the basis for genuine and transforming experiential insight.


Educational Objectives:

1) Discuss the concept of enactment and review its historical evolution.

 2) Describe the enacted dimension of analytic process—the continuously evolving second dimension of analytic treatment that exists alongside of and interwoven with the treatment’s verbal content.

3) Distinguish Contemporary Freudian and Relational/Intersubjective perspectives on enactment, in particular the relationship between enactment and analytic technique and the different meanings of the concept “co-creation.”

4) Illustrate the centrality of the enacted dimension in the treatment of patients with a history of trauma, abuse, and early object loss via clinical vignettes.

5) Demonstrate support for these ideas from current research in cognitive neuroscience.