Acknowledging enactment controversies, a brief outline of current approaches to enactment is presented. The article focuses on specific enactments that take place around analytic breaks. From the patient’s perspective, analytic breaks are experienced as disruptions, leading to increased anxiety. Interpreting unconscious anxiety is pivotal to containment, especially at a ‘point of urgency’. In the temporality of the analysis, threats to the frame are a challenge to containment, sometimes resulting in enactment, especially connected with a patient’s depth of disturbance, that cannot, yet, be metabolised, nor find verbal expression. It is only after an ‘unthought out action’ on part of the analyst, followed by a surprise response from the patient, that the analyst is alive to it. Guilt and shame often follow enactments, affects that can be utilised for acknowledging and understanding the enactment, furthering the analytic process. The emphasis is on temporality. A clinical illustration is presented of an enactment around a break, which coalesces round the patient’s psychic timing. Being an embodiment of the patient’s unconscious communication, the analyst understands her enactment in the conjecture between analytic timeliness and psychic time.
Sara Collins is Director of Training, a Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst of the British Psychoanalytic Association and a Guest Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society.