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(1960). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. V, 1957: Acting Out, Sublimation, and Reality Testing. Mark Kanzer. Pp. 663-684.. Psychoanal Q., 29:288-289.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. V, 1957: Acting Out, Sublimation, and Reality Testing. Mark Kanzer. Pp. 663-684.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:288-289

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. V, 1957: Acting Out, Sublimation, and Reality Testing. Mark Kanzer. Pp. 663-684.

Sublimations as well as acting out can be a representation of the past through actions instead of memory. This serves to discharge impulses outside rather than within the analytic situation. In a case report Kanzer demonstrates how sublimations were halfway methods of resolving feminine castration conflicts. The term 'acting out' is used by analysts both to describe a resistance in the course of therapy and also to delineate a more general character trait. The acting-out person has infantile identifications which do not permit a delay between impulse and discharge. The parents of these patients were inadequate in providing objects and identifications needed to keep instinctual tensions within proper bounds for ego growth. Sublimations may be both a character trait as ordinarily described and may also be used as resistances. In sublimation patients usually have more mature and stronger identifications and a greater ability to tolerate tension and are usually able to internalize motor discharge, an important influence in superego formation.

Sublimation is characterized by integration whereas acting out is characterized by disintegrative tendencies. Acting out and sublimations in work have their origins in successive stages of reality testing which mark the ascendancy of the secondary over the primary process. Their psychic forerunners are found in the dream, in fantasy, and in play; an ascending hierarchy of trial actions mobilizes the resources of the ego into new combinations for reality adaptation. Kanzer compares acting out to Ferenczi's stage of magic gestures and Anna Freud's denial in act, which succeed hallucinations and dreams in the ego's developing controls; sublimations are compared to Ferenczi's stage of speech symbolism and Anna Freud's denial through fantasy and word, where thought substitutes for action and supersedes direct motor discharge.

The author discusses the phases of reality testing, each of which is successful in its own setting and is subsequently absorbed into the maturing ego if integration

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develops normally. He thinks that there is a hierarchy of sublimation going from motor control of objects, through singing and acting, identification, painting and sculpture, to literature and logical activities. The key to this hierarchy must be sought in the inner meaning and play of forces at work in the formation of the sublimation. Sublimations are viewed as an intermediate between acting out as a direct discharge of inspiration and normal action or work as the product of an elaboration into conscious planning. Most normal adults have a combination of sublimations and reaction-formations which enable them to perform useful work as their supreme accomplishment in reality testing. In analysis, sublimations must be transformed into the work of external adaptation, and must be curbed and if possible interpreted when they become resistances.

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Article Citation

(1960). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. V, 1957. Psychoanal. Q., 29:288-289

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