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What happens before and after acute enactments? An exercise in clinical validation and the broadening of hypotheses



This paper seeks to validate clinical facts and theoretical hypotheses that have been discussed before and that address configurations involving chronic and acute enactments. Its validation process compares clinical material from psychoanalytic work in different psychoanalytic cultures – work from South America–Uruguay (Yardino), Europe–Spain (Sapisochin), South Africa (Ivey), Europe–UK (Bateman). It documents clinical facts described in four articles and confirms that during chronic enactments the analytic dyad gets caught up in a dual relationship that veils and congeals the triangular situation because acknowledging it would be traumatic. The lack of triangular space impedes the formation of symbols as well as dreaming and creates non-dreams-for-two. During chronic enactments analysts use their implicit alpha-function to assemble traumatic areas. These areas emerge as a mix of discharges and non-dreams that are dreamed through acute enactments. Acute enactments occur when chronic enactments dissolve and patients experience an abrupt contact with reality. The attenuated trauma is then dreamed alive. The linking of new symbols develops a network of symbolic thought and creates dreams-for-two and broadens the patient’s mental universe. The validation process has deepened our vision concerning clinical facts, especially in relation to: (1) the wavering between acute and chronic enactments, (2) analysts’ inhibitions and feelings of guilt, and (3) the influence of analysts’ personalities on the configurations they describe. These theoretical hypotheses have been confirmed and broadened not only in relation to the vicissitudes of dream work in traumatic areas, but also in relation to defenses such as thin or thick skin, and in relation to listening in countertransferential detours.

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