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Rouart, J. (1968). Acting out and the Psychoanalytical Process. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:185-187.

(1968). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49:185-187

Acting out and the Psychoanalytical Process

Julien Rouart

The term acting out has received a very wide acceptance, but the extended meaning of the concept, which Anna Freud has criticized, means that it is difficult to avoid a vague definition due to this extension, since it is not obvious that a single definition can suitably describe all that is included within the term.

A majority of authors tend to use a very general concept of the term and start from the same premise as Freud who considered repetitive acts as resistance to recall. For him the most noteworthy manifestation of this repetition was an active and emotional experiencing of the transference. But most writers feel that since then psychoanalysis has contributed to the knowledge and understanding of the meaning and genesis of many manifestations of action in various types of behaviour. This amounts to considering acting out as a "clinical fact" or, in other words, seeing it from a psychopathological or even a nosological point of view, with acting out being much more likely to occur during treatment with patients of impulsive behaviour patterns.

Nevertheless it should not be forgotten that acting out appears in very different circumstances depending on whether it is

a. acting out in the transference as it develops in analysis (even when during treatment it takes on—in its extreme form—the aspect of a psychotic episode, in which case it is different from the symptom for which it may be substituted to a lesser or greater degree and at specific times); or


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