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May 2022

Affect, language and communication - 41st IPA Congress plenary session

Journal/Book: Int J Psychoanal. 2000; 81: 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1M 7Rd, England. Inst Psycho-Analysis. 257-262.

Abstract: The author discusses Hernandez's enriching and clarifying paper, which directs us to the limitations of language with regard to affective movements that barely attain the condition of thinkability and thereby to the important and confusing topic of enactments, which are the lingua franca for the communication of dangerous and repudiated affects. Enactments bridge the interface between what is expressible and inexpressible, between what is forgotten and what is pressing for revival between reality and fantasy and also between one-person and two-person psychologies. Conceptually the term enactment facilitates the integration of the concepts of fantasy, projective identification and counter transference. Steiner's richly detailed and moving clinical report demonstrated the value of the concept of projective identification for understanding his patient's communication of affects. The concept has been neglected until recently by many US analysts; one source of confusion has been the assumed reliability of the analyst's emotional reactions as an indicator of what the patient is feeling. The author asks whether Steiner is speaking loosely or literally when he says that his patients put their feelings into him, citing examples to demonstrate that the value of the concept of projective identification would be enhanced by a clarification of this question.

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