The tendency to express urges, conflicts, and fantasies in uncontrolled action. In acting-out, the individual seeks to release impulses that are usually of a sexual or aggressive nature in order to gain relief from tension or anxiety. In doing so, he loses sight of consequences and frequently yields to an overwhelming desire to “get it over with.” An acting-out pattern is characteristic of juvenile delinquent behavior. Various forms of acting-out are used for psychotherapeutic purposes. Both children and adults may be encouraged to act out repressed feelings or re-enact traumatic experiences under controlled conditions. The release of tension usually has a salutary effect.

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "ACTING-OUT," in, November 28, 2018, (accessed July 3, 2020).