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Schwarz, H. (1968). Contribution to Symposium on Acting Out. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:179-181.

(1968). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49:179-181

Contribution to Symposium on Acting Out

Hedwig Schwarz

My contribution to this Symposium is based on the work of a group, On Problems of Delinquency, which forms part of the research programme of the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic. We have been fortunate in having Miss Freud's advice and criticism whenever we presented our cases or our theoretical assumptions in staff meetings.

Only clinical material gained during child analysis has been used in this project: five children aged 10–15 were in treatment for between two and four years. The analysis of one case is still going on and two new cases have started recently. When we began the research in 1962 we set ourselves the task of studying three concepts: (i) Acting out; (ii) The Pathology of Object Relationships in the Delinquent; (iii) Frustration Tolerance.

We soon realised how interlocked these concepts are and how difficult it would be to isolate them from each other. I shall, naturally, concentrate here on the concept of acting out. We, in our study, look upon the delinquent act as a symptom formation, a compromise solution between the unconscious attempt to avoid painful affect, whilst the content of the acting out represents a striving towards immediate libidinal or aggressive gratification. This corresponds roughly to the analytic model of symptom formation.

All our cases are permanent or chronic actors-out in contrast to children who only act out under acute stress, e.g. a child who steals biscuits from other children's lockers while his mother is in hospital.

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