The Play Within the Play: The Enacted Dimension of Psychoanalytic Process: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Play Within the Play: The Enacted Dimension of Psychoanalytic Process

1st Edition

By Gil Katz


186 pages

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Paperback: 9780415819671
pub: 2013-09-10
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In The Play within the Play: The Enacted Dimension of Psychoanalytic Process Gil Katz presents and illustrates the "enacted dimension of psychoanalytic process." He clarifies that enactment is not simply an overt event but an unconscious, continuously evolving, dynamically meaningful process.

Using clinical examples, including several extended case reports, Gil Katz demonstrates how in all treatments, 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 the enacted dimension, repressed or dissociated aspects of the patient’s past are not just remembered, they are re-lived. Katz shows how, when the enacted dimension becomes conscious, it forms the basis for genuine and transforming experiential insight.


"This is an indispensable book for anyone interested in contemporary psychoanalytic theory and practice. In a definitive, highly original, and practically useful way, Dr. Katz augments and enriches our understanding of the concept of enactment by demonstrating that it is an ongoing unconscious process that plays a central role in every treatment. In doing so, he has made a major contribution to our field." - Theodore J. Jacobs, M.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, New York Psychoanalytic Institute and the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education

"In "The Play within the Play: The Enacted Dimension of Psychoanalytic Process," Gil Katz gives us a much needed overview of thinking about enactments in clinical work. From a contemporary Freudian object relations perspective, he offers a comprehensive, fair-minded study of contributions from a wide range of theoretical traditions. Katz's book is a sure-handed guide through the complexities of this topic. Candidates and practitioners alike will be challenged to test their own thinking against his original observations and formulations." - Jay Greenberg, Ph.D., Training and Supervising analyst, William Alanson White Institute and Editor, The Psychoanalytic Quarterly

"This innovative book illustrates the extent to which psychoanalysis has truly evolved. Along with dreams, transference, and countertransference, contemporary analysts now consider enactment and nonverbal communication within the analytic dyad to be one of the main elements of clinical experience. This wonderful and original book by Gil Katz explores, expands, and creatively illustrates the "enacted dimension of analytic process," an unconscious transference-countertransference dimension of all treatments, in which unrepresented and pre-represented early experience finds expression and becomes available for analytic work. This rich and original contribution deepens our understanding of analytic process, and advances psychoanalytic theory and practice."-Stefano Bolognini, M.D., President-Elect, International Psychoanalytic Association

"Enactment is one of the many concepts in psychoanalysis that seems to become less clear the more it's used. In this volume Gil Katz bravely takes on this term, and explores it in depth, both theoretically and clinically. His exploration of this topic over the last fifteen years led to his felicitous phrase "the enacted dimension of analytic process," capturing how ubiquitous and continuous it is within analytic process. His contemporary Freudian, object relations viewpoint brings fresh insights to our methods of understanding and working in this important arena of the psychoanalytic relationship." -

Fred Busch, Ph.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, PINE Psychoanalytic Center and Faculty, Boston Psychoanalytic Institute

Table of Contents

Introduction. Section I: Theoretical Evolution.In the Beginning: The Talking Cure and the Problem of Action. Forerunners: The Transference–Countertransference Matrix. Enactment: The Emergence of a New Concept. Section II: The Enacted Dimension of Analytic Process.Where the Action Is: The Second Dimension of Analytic Process. Clinical Illustrations: Reliving Preverbal and Unformulated Experience in the Enacted Dimension. Clinical Illustration: An Enacted Process within an Enacted Process. Interaction in Psychoanalysis: Across and Through the Interspychic "Cat-Flap". Enactment and Analytic Technique: What We Can Learn from John Lennon and Microwave Ovens. Enactment and Actualization in a Thirteen Year Treatment. The Enacted Dimension of Analytic Supervision: The Parallel Process Phenomenon. Section III: Trauma and the Enacted Dimension. Dissociative Identity Disorder and the Enacted Dimension. Object Loss and Mourning in the Enacted Dimension. Transgenerational Transmission of the Holocaust Trauma in the Enacted Dimension. Section IV: Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers).

About the Author

Gil Katz is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology, Faculty Member, and Supervising Analyst at the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, where he also chairs the Faculty and Curriculum Committee of the Contemporary Freudian Track. He is a Faculty Member and Fellow (Training and Supervising Analyst) at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR), where he has also served as Dean of Training. Dr. Katz teaches courses on enacted processes in psychoanalytic treatment at both institutes.

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.  

We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.  

Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / General