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Greenson, R.R. (1966). Comment on Dr Limentani's Paper. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:282-285.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:282-285

Comment on Dr Limentani's Paper

Ralph R. Greenson

I am in basic agreement with Limentani's major points, namely, that acting out is an extremely complex phenomenon; that it cannot be properly understood unless it is viewed from multiple points of view: and that it is not merely an obstacle to the therapeutic process. I do disagree with him on certain issues and some of my disagreement stems from what I consider to be a loose use of the terms acting out and working through. I would therefore propose to begin my discussion by attempting to define what we mean by these expressions. Psycho-analytic terms are apt to take on different meanings in different psycho-analytic groups, and we ought to establish some working definitions if we hope to communicate effectively to an international group. The definitions I hope to establish are derived basically from the work of Freud (1914), Fenichel (1945), and Greenacre (1950).

Acting out should be differentiated from other forms of irrational behaviour, from re-livings and from symptomatic actions. Re-livings are re-enactments of past behaviour or experience in a current situation without any significant distortion of the past event. The person who is reliving is unaware of this fact at the moment because his total ego may be immersed in the event.

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