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Lebovici, S. (1968). Contribution to the Symposium on Acting Out. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:202-205.

(1968). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49:202-205

Contribution to the Symposium on Acting Out

S. Lebovici

At this stage of the discussion, after hearing the introduction to the theme presented by Anna Freud, and the accounts of the discussions which have taken place in the various language groups, I prefer to limit my contribution to one point only: the study of what child psycho-analysis can contribute to the subject of this Congress.

We have been reminded by Anna Freud how in 1914 Freud showed that the patients sometimes repeated instead of remembering, when in resistance. At the end of his life, in his Outline of Psychoanalysis(1940) he distinguished acting out from the compulsion to repeat, which is one of the causes of the transference:

We think it most undesirable if the patient acts outside the transference instead of remembering.

I believe that, using these definitions supplied by Freud, child psychoanalysis may enlighten our knowledge, for children act, during psycho-analysis. Therefore it is essential—this seems to be the general opinion—to distinguish acting from acting out, both in transference and resistance, in the metapsychological field.

I will, therefore, suggest a few ideas: (i) in the technical field and its theory, (ii) in the metapsychological field, which will probably help our understanding of certain clinical problems in the psychopathology of the child.

Acting out during child psychoanalysis

It is a fact that children, in all stages up to adolescence, play during psychoanalysis. First, Hug von Hellmuth, then Melanie Klein (1932) recommended the use and interpretation of these games:

If we are not to lose sight of the urgent nature of the analytical material, we must probe right down into the deep psychological stratum, both of the games and phantasies, as well as the distress and guilt which is inseparable from their content.

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