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Kucera, O. (1968). On Being Acted On. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:495-497.

(1968). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49:495-497

On Being Acted On

Otakar Kucera

The phenomenon called here "being acted on" seems to be a counterpart to the mechanism of acting out. With it, the relation between an occurrence in outer reality and the ability to remember a past experience is quite the reverse of acting out.

Let me give an example: The analysis of a man suffering from a character neurosis with mild inhibitions in work and sexual life, had been successfully terminated. He had been for ten years an able professional worker—a pediatrician, a happy husband and father. One day his wife was assumed to be pregnant, but as she was incapacitated by a previous illness an abortion was considered necessary. During the days before it became clear that she was not pregnant at all, the man lived in deep despair about the imminent and unavoidable "rejection" or "murder" of the expected child and had spells of crying which he concealed. As he had good analytic insight, this stormy and inappropriate reaction enabled him to recognize that he was reliving an experience from the beginning of his second year, when his little brother suddenly died at the age of three months. This occurrence, which never came fully into his analysis, now erupted and effected in him deep-going changes. Some "symptomatic" features of his behaviour disappeared, e.g. a "cat addiction" with highly ambivalent manifestations, and his professional activity became broader and more efficient apparently as a result of the sublimation of aggressive impulses against his little brother which in his unconscious fantasies had caused the latter's death.

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