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Gaddini, E. (1982). Acting out in the Psychoanalytic Session. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 63:57-64.

(1982). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 63:57-64

Acting out in the Psychoanalytic Session

Eugenio Gaddini


I have attempted to describe some distinctive features of acting out, as they can be observed in the psychoanalytic session and in the development of the psychoanalytic process. Acting out is part and parcel of early development, and as such it is a normal phenomenon, which precedes the development of language, and of reality-oriented action and activity. Later on, it may instead establish itself as a defence, which is usually self-oriented, magic, and omnipotent. Defensive acting out seems linked to pathology in the primitive non-integrated organization of the mind, which may be able not only to prevent early ego development towards reality and object relationship, but to compel the ego to put its developing capacities in the service of the self's needs—above all, the need to survive.

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