Games and enactments

An enactment is a rupture in the therapeutic relationship such that dissociated parts of self emerge and can become conscious with in the therapeutic field (H. Hargaden)

In dissociation the Free Child is split off from the rest of the personality to protect it from further trauma. This of course is an unconscious process and as the person grows into adulthood there is a natural desire to repair the personality. The person will unconsciously seek to repair itself most often by using relationships with close others. This can happen in marriages and other close relationships such as parents and children or even in the therapeutic relationship.

An enactment shows how this can happen. In this theory, in the relationship between the two parties the split off parts of the personality or the repressed parts of the personality which we all possess will constantly seek to come into awareness in an endeavour to be repaired.

The Child in us thinks, “If I can just bring this out into the open then maybe it will somehow get fixed.” This constant drive in us all to repair self and become whole again.

The rupture in the relationship will show these two dissociated parts which had been held in the unconscious but now are out to be seen. The key is to recognise them and once recognised be able to deal with them in such a way that repair occurs. But without awareness of course there is never going to be any repair.

In an enactment both the therapist and the client are in the therapeutic field or in the area where change can occur. When the enactment is played out the therapist is meant to observe the dissociated or unconscious parts of both the client and the therapist. Through awareness, discussion and new ways of relating the dissociated parts are meant to realign themselves with the rest of the personality.




This has implications for game analysis which are similar phenomena to enactments. In game analysis the therapist stands outside the therapeutic field or the area where change can occur. In a game the same can be seen to occur. The dissociated or repressed part of the client comes out into the open which then can be diagnosed by the therapist, which is a new way of looking at games. When the game is played by the client, either with the therapist or they are reporting a game being played with another, the therapist is to look for the unconscious material that is being presented by the client when the game causes a rupture in the relationship.


In a game the therapist is outside the therapeutic field where the client is. When the game is reported or played out with the therapist the therapist is meant to observe the dissociated or unconscious parts of the client. The therapist is meant to provide some kind of guidance such that the dissociated part enters awareness of the client and they can then deal with the unconscious need that has surfaced through awareness, some kind of catharsis or new ways of relating.




A game can then be viewed as an unsophisticated attempt by the person to repair self by bringing unconscious material to the surface. With the Free Child hoping that this time something new will happen and they will at last get their unmet need met or be able to say and do the thing they have always wanted to. A different way to look at games and indeed places games in a much more positive light – an attempt to repair self.

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