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Moore, B.E. (1968). Contribution to Symposium on Acting Out. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:182-184.

(1968). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49:182-184

Contribution to Symposium on Acting Out

Burness E. Moore

Anna Freud has clearly outlined those specifics which distinguish acting out from other behaviour commonly confused with it, and Grinberg's clinical paper provides us with excellent examples of the three consequences of the analytic situation mentioned by Miss Freud: the expression of id derivatives through remembering, repetition in the transference, and action outside analysis. In my comments I shall attempt a further differentiation of acting out and express some thoughts about the genesis of the tendency. A clinical vignette will illustrate certain points I wish to make.

A young man in his thirties entered analytic treatment for reasons not related to a behaviour pattern, at first consciously conflict-free, which some analysts would regard as a living out of neurotic problems. On three separate occasions he had a longstanding affair with marriageable girls toward whom he had tender, loving feelings. He lived with the last one at week-ends, had sexual relations, but was psychically impotent. During the week he was promiscuous to a remarkable degree, picking up a new girl sometimes almost nightly. He was adept at seduction and experienced an excitement, satisfaction, and relief of tension on these occasions which he never achieved with his steady girl friend. Analysis revealed that these sexual activities represented the satisfaction of his passive, homosexual longings through an identification with the girl and a turning of passivity into activity. An aggressive, sadistic pleasure was experienced in these episodes, which represented a mastery of his childhood dependency on his mother at a preoedipal level as well as an oedipal triumph over his father.

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