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Anastasopoulos, D. (1988). Acting out During Adolescence in Terms of Regression in Symbol Formation. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 15:177-186.

(1988). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 15:177-186

Acting out During Adolescence in Terms of Regression in Symbol Formation

Dimitris Anastasopoulos


Symbol formation and acting out are briefly reviewed and linked with the adolescent process.

During adolescence, under the pressure of increased instinctual drives on an incomplete, weakened ego, regression of parts of the self occurs. This causes a regression in the ability to symbolize, with consequent slowing down of abstract thinking and emotional expression and discharge through acting out. In extreme cases, this may lead to serious emotional disturbances.

Acting out as an expression of a regression in symbolizing capacity is explored. Also, the functions of acting out as a primitive symbolic communication and as a mechanism protective of the integration of the self during adolescence, are discussed.

Three adolescent cases are presented, in which the improvement of symptomatology and acting out was connected with improvement in their symbolizing capacity.

It is suggested that considering acting out as derivative of a regression in symbolizing ability, might enhance our understanding of young people and their problems.

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