Background

What Is Acting Out? (and Covert Narcissist)

Uploaded 10/8/2022, approx. 30 minute read

I give you all abandonment anxiety. One day, 24 hours, without a video by Sam Vaknin. This is called Withdrawal Symptoms. You went cold turkey on me, because my name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, and I am a professor of psychology.


Today, we are going to discuss acting out.

Exactly like gaslighting and numerous other clinical terms, acting out is abused, misrepresented, and plain wrongly explained by self-styled experts and their self-styled dogs.

Today, I am going to set the record straight because this is what I do on this channel. I provide academic counterweight to the tsunami of nonsense and disinformation online, propagated to my regret by many people with academic degrees.

Acting out, but before we go to acting out, I would like to respond to a few of your comments and questions.

You could conceptualize a covert narcissist as a narcissist who develops avoidant personality disorder in order to cope with a permanent state of collapse.

Now, this sentence is profound for two reasons.

Number one, I said it, so it must be profound.

Number two, it provides a much deeper insight into the psychodynamics of covert narcissism.

I'm going to repeat this sentence a little more slowly. A covert narcissist is a narcissist, but it's a narcissist who is experiencing and trying to cope with, and successfully, a permanent state of collapse.

To remind you, a collapse in the case of narcissism is the inability to secure regular narcissistic supply. A covert narcissist fails at obtaining supply, and so he develops what is the equivalent of avoidant personality disorder.

Here is the formula, covert narcissism equals narcissism plus avoidant personality disorder.

I received a comment. Professor Vaknin, thank you for the video. Can you make a video of the psychodynamics of the avoidant personality disorder? I made. Does it fit into your model of narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder? Are the elements of needing to be seen and having an internalized bad object the same? Yes, they're the same, and they're the same for two reasons.

My model of the need to be seen coupled with or in conflict with an internalized bad object, this model doesn't apply only to narcissism or to borderline. It's a general mental health model or mental illness model.

What I claim is that these are two primordial drives. These are drives we are born with, atavistic, postnatal, even babies three days old have these drives. When these drives conflict, they create mental illness. When they're not satisfied, they create mental illness. It's a kind of theory of everything, of psychopathology. So yes, it applies to avoidant personality disorder, to paranoid personality disorder, to schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders. It generates mood disorders. It's intimately linked to anxiety and depression, etc.

The second reason is I believe that there is, and I've been saying this since the early 1990s, I believe that there's only one personality disorder. The 11th edition, the recent edition of the International Classification of Diseases, the ICD, supports this view, incorporates it. The DSM has yet to catch up.

But my belief is that there is a single personality disorder.

And so avoidant, narcissistic, borderline, antisocial, paranoid, schizoid personality disorders, they're all one and the same. They're all a single clinical, underlying clinical entity with different manifestations and emphases which are not stable across the lifespan.

In other words, you can transition from narcissism to psychopathy, from being paranoid to being schizotypal, etc.

Finally, there's a recurrent question. Is it only the mother or can the father inflict similar damage?

First of all, I'm not talking about a mother in the biological sense. I'm not talking about people who get pregnant, to use the politically correct nonsensical idiotic term currently in vogue in the United States. I'm not talking about people with vaginas. I'm talking about people who perform the role of a primary object, primary caregiver. It could be a father in the absence of the mother. Whoever is in the maternal role, he is or she is the one who actually formed the child. That's why we call it the formative years.

Now, John Bowlby, the father of attachment theory, disagreed with me. He said that only mothers or only females can have this impact. He called it monotropy, monotropy, M-O-N-O-T-R-O-P-Y.

I and numerous other scholars since wholeheartedly disagree with him, but the maternal role is critical.


Okay, to the topic of today's video.

The major difference between borderline personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder is acting out.

Now, before we proceed, acting out should be clearly demarcated and distinguished from acting in. Let me just turn on the light. Don't I look much better in the light? No. Okay, so we should make a difference between acting out and acting in.

Acting in, also known as enactment, is a process in psychotherapy, especially psychoanalytic in the psychoanalytic schools of psychotherapy. It has nothing to do with acting out, and yet the two are often confused.

Even giants of psychoanalysis, such as Ferency and Rank and later on Wilfred Bion and Tastin and others, they confused acting in or enactment with acting out.

The reason is, of course, well, Sigmund Freud. Freud initially used the term in German ern, agern is a verb and agern is a noun, and it was mistranslated in the standard edition of Freud's work, to acting out. But acting out is not the same thing that Freud had meant.

In a minute, we'll dwell on this.

Similarly, there's a huge confusion between acting out and bad behavior, like if you act antisocially, if you're abrasive and obnoxious and criminalized and reckless and defiant and authority-hating, conscientious, then you are said to be acting out.

And of course, that's nonsense. That is not true. That's not the definition of acting out.

Acting out usually results in self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors, which could be interpreted as bad behaviors and have impact, an adverse impact on other people.

But it's of the essence of the core and the reason for the etiology of acting out.

In French psychoanalysis, scholars such as Lacan and others, they made a distinction between acting out and passage à l'acte, which I will discuss again a bit later.

Passage à l'acte in French means an impulsive and usually violent act. And it is an integral part of criminology, not psychology.

So what is acting out?

Vagner, can you enlighten us? Can you put us on the right path?

Oh Lord, yes, I can. I can because I'm a professor of psychology.

And so acting out is the discharge by means of action of conflicted mental content.

When you have an internal conflict, when you have a dissonance, there are two ways to go about releasing it or resolving it.

One is to talk about it. That's why we talk to therapists. That's why we talk to good friends. That's why we talk to family. It's one way of restoring inner calm and inner peace.

The other way is to act it out, to simply act, reenact the conflict in real life.

There is a distinction, of course, between speech acts and real acts, behavioral acts, but both of them are indistinguishable in psychoanalytic theory. Both of them are discharges. These are responses to repressed content.

We have a lot of information in our unconscious, which we dare not access. All kinds of hurts and traumas, bad memories, things we would rather forget.

When we get in touch with this repressed content, it creates something called abreaction. There is a discharge.

And this discharge could be verbal or it could be reenacted. In other words, the discharge could be in the form of memory, verbalized memory, or it could be in the form of crazy making behavior.

There's another distinction which we draw between acting out and acting in or enactment. Acting out occurs only outside the therapy room, outside the clinic, only in real life. It's while acting in or enactment is compensatory. It's a reaction to the frustration brought on by the therapeutic situation.

So the therapeutic situation creates a lot of friction between therapists and patients, and that leads to acting in or enactment. Anything that occurs in treatment, and which is non-verbal, body language even, prolonged silences, repeated pauses, attempts to seduce the therapist. I should be so lucky. Attacking the therapist, all these forms of acting in or enactment, they are not acting out.

So where does acting out come from?

Freud mentioned it the first time in connection with a case known as the Dora case. The Dora case was first described actually in 1901, not in 1905, as many textbooks get it wrong.

And so Dora was a complicated case and she transferred her aggression towards Freud. It's very common in therapy. The patient becomes aggressive with the analyst or with the therapist. And she tried to take revenge on Freud because she had a problem with another man.

And so what Freud had written is Dora deserted me as she believed herself to have been deceived and deserted by this man.

And so she acted out, said Freud, an essential part of her recollections and fantasies instead of reproducing them in the treatment.

So the translation, the mistranslation of Freud's term again led to this enormous confusion.

And so acting out is a failure, a failure to cope with internal conflict, with pain, with hurt.

Freud in another paper in 1914 titled Remembering, Repeating, and Working Through, revisited the distinction between remembering and acting out. He said the patient does not remember anything of what he has forgotten and repressed, but he acts it out. He reproduces it not as a memory, but as an action. He repeats it without, of course, knowing that he's repeating it.

So there's a repetition of feelings, for example, aggression, feeling rebellious, defiant, or feeling hopeless and helpless. There's a repetition of emotions, not an emotional flashback, which is nonsensical, but simply re-experiencing by a memory.

And so when this happens, the patient tries to process it, and if he fails or she fails, they might act out.

Acting out is very common in borderline personality disorder.

This borderline personality disorder is founded on conflict and dissonance.

At the core of borderline personality disorder, there are repressed, vicious memories, memories of trauma, sexual abuse, hurt, pain, rejection, humiliation, abandonment in early childhood. These memories bury deep, and any contact with them generates decompensation and a disintegration of the anyhow, law organization, precarious personality of the borderline.

But that's only one reason.


The other reason is the borderline simultaneously experiences two mutually exclusive overwhelming anxieties, hence her emotional dysregulation.

The first anxiety is abandonment anxiety, in clinical terms, separation insecurity.

The second type of anxiety is engulfment or enmeshment anxiety, and this creates in her an unresolvable cognitive dissonance.

So she approaches, then she avoids, then she approaches again, and this, in effect, is a form of acting out.

The approach avoidance repetition compulsion, or actually any repetition compulsion, is a variant of acting out, because the repetition compulsion serves to express an inner, non-verbalized inner conflict, and inner dissonance.

There is a resistance against the emergence of memory, and against particular ways of remembering.

So instead, the patient uses her body. It is a form of somatization.

Acting out is exactly like somatization.

Now Van der Kolk and many other scholars have pointed out the extremely intimate connection between bodily symptoms and body processing, and trauma, but they have never connected the dots. The fact that acting out is using the body to remember, and in this sense, it's a form of somatization.

Freud said, we must be prepared to find, therefore, that the patient yields the compulsion to repeat, which now replaces the impulsion to remember, not only in his personal attitude to his doctor, but also in every other activity in relationship which may occupy his life at the time.

If, for instance, he falls in love, or undertakes a task, or starts an enterprise during the treatment, he will act out. So acting out and repetition compulsion, repeating certain behaviors, it's the same process. It's the same process.

Freud said very early on, everything that has already made its way from the sources of the repressed into the manifest personality, the patient's inhibitions, and unserviceable attitudes, his pathological characteristics, is part of acting out.

Acting out in reality very often has very grave consequences. You could lose your job, you could sleep with a stranger and contract an STD, you can destroy your marriage, you can get drunk and become violent. All these forms of acting out, they precipitate disasters in the patient's life.

And so acting out is a very crucial process in the dynamic of certain personality disorders, which shall we call them, they are dysregulated or affective instability disorders.

Acting out is the only way these people can safely somehow touch their searing, seething, festering emotions and memories.

So I mentioned Lakan. Lakan gave a series of seminars, interminable seminars, I think they lasted more than two decades. Oh, a delight.

Lakan is my spitting image. We are like identical twins. And we have one more thing in common. We studied narcissism, both of us. And another thing in common, we both loved, adored the sound of our voices.

So he gave us seminars for 20 plus years. And in some of these seminars, he actually used English. And Lakan uses the term acting out. And he said that acting out is the outcome of the opposition between repeating and remembering. These are contrasting ways of bringing the past into the presence, as La Planche and Pontali said in 1967.

If past events are repressed away from memory, they re-erupped and they return and express themselves via action. When you don't remember the past, you're condemned to repeat it, actually, you're condemned to act it out.

There is an element of repetition in almost every human action, but acting out is reserved for actions that display an impulsive aspect relatively out of harmony with the subject's usual motivational patterns. These are patterns that are fairly easy to isolate from the overall trends of his activity.

Acting out is out of character. Acting out is shocking, is surprising. The subject himself fails to understand her motivations or motives for acting the way she did.

And that's why today we begin to consider acting out as the switching mechanism between self-states.

So we have collapse. The collapse drives a transition from one mental illness or one type of mental illness to another.

And within this transition, acting out is the mechanism that facilitates a switch from one self-state to another.

For example, when the borderline experiences overwhelming stress, she anticipates abandonment or she experiences rejection and humiliation, she will act out. And by acting out, she will switch to a secondary psychopathic self-state. The psychopath will transition and become a narcissist. The narcissist will transition and become a psychopath. Both of them will act out.

From Lacan's perspective, the basic definition of acting out is true, but it is incomplete.

Lacan says, no one is an island. No one is disconnected from others. And in this sense, I'm in agreement with him. I believe that allmental illness is relational and interpersonal much more than individual.

Actually, I believe that the concept of individual is counterfactual, defies the facts.

So Lacan says, when we discuss acting out, we need to take the perspective and the dimension of people around the patient, around the borderline, for example.

So Lacan says, acting out results from a failure to recollect the past together with an intersubjective dimension of recollection.

Intersubjective means across minds or with other minds.

Recollection, he says, does not merely involve recalling something to consciousness. It also involves communicating this to someone else by means of speech.

And so acting out is not only when recollection is impossible. When your recollection is impossible, you would tend to act out according to Freud and all other scholars.

But Lacan says, it will also happen. Acting out will also happen when you are able to verbalize your memories and your pain and your trauma, but no one would listen. Other people refuse to listen to you.

You're then equally likely to act out.

So there are two components, he says. Inability to recall and or inability to communicate it to someone else who is attentive and open to listen.

When the other person becomes deaf, to use Lacan's term, the subject cannot convey a message to him in words. And the subject is forced to express the message in actions.

So acting out in Lacan's work is a code. It's a code. It's a ciphered message.

It's when you try to address the other, when you try to talk to someone and even if you are not conscious of what it is that you are trying to communicate, even if you are not aware fully of what's happening and the other person rejects you, refuses to listen to you, turns a deaf ear, then you would act out. And you would act out in a way that encodes the message that you were trying to convey.

So in Lacan's work, there is some kind of one-on-one relationship, a monovalent relationship, a mapping relationship between the content of the acting out, for example, the exact type of somatization, and the content of the message which is either repressed or declined, not listened to.

And so this was Lacan's first contribution to the concept of acting out.


And he made another contribution, we will come to it a little later, in distinguishing acting out from Passage Lact, which I mentioned earlier.

So, Passage Lact, as I said, comes from French clinical psychiatry. French clinical psychiatry is very different to Western clinical psychiatry.

So, for example, in French, narcissists are called perverse, perverse narcissists, not all narcissists are perverse in Western literature, in Western scholarly literature, but in France, all narcissists are perverse, which is why I want to emigrate there.

Anyhow, away from my lame jokes and back to the content, in French clinical psychiatry, Passage Lact designates, as I said, impulsive acts, violent acts, usually with a tinge of criminal nature, and they usually, or typically, resolve in a psychotic episode.

So, these acts mark the point when the subject proceeds from a violent idea or intention to a corresponding act.

And as you're beginning to see, this has very little to do with acting out, although there's a lot of confusion in the literature between the two, because Passage Lact is part and parcel of psychosis in French criminology and French clinical literature.

Even in French courts, if you can prove Passage Lact, this is a mitigating circumstance, or even not guilty by reason of insanity, it reduces the perpetrator's responsibility, especially civil responsibility.

In the first half of the 20th century, France has been exposed to Sigmund Freud in the Austrian German schools, and it became common for French analysts to use the term Passage Lact to translate the term, again, used by Freud.

In other words, they misuse the term Passagelact to translate acting out, this is wrong, and Lacan is right about this.

In his important seminar in 1962, 1963, when I was one year old, Lacan established a distinction between these two terms. Both of them, mind you, both acting out and Passagelact, both of them are defenses against anxiety.

When you get in touch with really harmful traumatic content inside you that you had repressed for decades or years, this creates mounting anxiety, and it's a defense against anxiety.

To act out is to release the anxiety. It's like an orgy, a cathartic orgy of actions, possibly a real orgy.

Similarly, Passagelact is motivated by a reduction of anxiety, and indeed, today we know, decades after Lacan first suggested it or postulated it, today we know that psychopathy is closely connected with anxiety disorder.

Actually, most psychopaths are anxious. The subject who acts, the subject who does something, still remains in the scene.

Acting out involves presence. Even in the case of Borderline, where dissociation is very common, during the acting out, there is a self-state which is present in the scene or on the scene.

Passagelact involves an exit from the scene because it involves a psychotic element.

Acting out is a symbolic message. It's a cry for help. It's a coded transmission addressed to others, but Passagelact is a flight response. It's a flight away from other people into a dimension of the unreal. It's a flight from reality.

Acting out is manipulating reality to make a stand or a statement or to cope with memories and so on that cannot be processed otherwise.

Passagelact is losing it. It's going away. It's an exit from the symbolic network that connects every human being to every other human being. It's a dissolution of the social bond.

According to Lacan, the Passagelact does not necessarily imply an underlying psychosis.

There he diverged from the long tradition of clinical psychiatry in France, but it does entail a dissolution of the subject.


So, for a moment, the subject becomes a pure object. As a subject, you're open to input from other people. You are the subject of their attention, of their emotions, of their actions.

In Passagelact, you cease being a subject. You become only an object. You are disconnected from all other people.

So, this was Lacan's contribution to acting out.

We're beginning to see that acting out is a multifaceted dimensions, a multifaceted process.

Today, we don't use acting out in the restricted sense that it was used in the first 60 years after Freud had coined the phrase. Today, we extended the concept of acting out to any habitual impulsivity emanating from a personality pathology, all sorts of socially and morally unacceptable or un-not-sublimated behaviors, any unbridled expression of instincts and urges, sexual deviations, drug addiction, alcoholism, antisocial behavior. They are all considered forms of acting out.

I refer you to work by Abt, ABT and Weizmann.

Helen Deutsch in 1966 went even further. She said that we are all actors out. We all act out because nobody is free of regressive trends. She said that even creativity is a form of acting out.

Hans Eys, actually sort of agreed with her because he said that creativity requires psychoticism, one of the personality factors that he had identified.

So, we're beginning to see everything put together.

Acting out, psychosis, passagel act, creativity, we're beginning to see that acting out possibly is much more common than we had thought, much less discernible under the radar and not always connected to a personality pathology.

This is today the prevailing view, but not mine.

I think exactly like other clinical terms, including narcissism, we are stretching the meaning to the point or to the breaking point. We are rendering these words meaningless. It's an overextension.

Joseph Schonberg, Christopher Deere and Alex Hodder stated that it is perhaps unfortunate that some such term as an actement was not used in the literature to distinguish the general tendency to impulsive or irrational action from acting out linked with the treatment.

Actually, what had happened is exactly the opposite. An actement was reserved to treatment effects while acting out was reserved to real life.

So, where are we with all this? We know that acting out is a form of repetition compulsion. Is the patient or a person who acts out, is it likely to repeat exactly the same patterns of acting out or is it liable to act out in a variety of ways, depending on circumstances, the presence of other people, according to Lacan, I don't know, developments in his personal life and so on.

Is acting out, in other words, affected or influenced by other dimensions outside the acting out process?

Observations tell us that acting out is a rigid pattern. You're likely to act out in the same way.

So, if a borderline acts out by being promiscuous, she will continue to act out by being promiscuous, getting drunk and promiscuous. If she acts out by breaking objects, she will break objects or become violent or whatever the case may be. I'm saying she, although, of course, half of all borderlines are men.

So, if you are defined and critical towards authority figures, for example, parents or doctors, that is indicative of underlying processes which are unresolved in your mind, in your unconscious mind and you are likely to repeat this pattern lifelong.

Again, we can refer to Freud who said that a patient does not recount that he used to be defiant and critical towards his parents' authority. Instead, he behaves in that way to the doctor. He does not remember how he came to be helpless and hopeless, deadlock in his infantile sexual researches.

But he produces a mass of confused dreams and associations, complains that he cannot succeed in anything and asserts that he is fated never to carry through what he undertakes.

The clinical view is that acting out is repeated. It's a repetition compulsion.

Wiederholung in the original term. It's a repetition by acting out and it is the only form that we know of, the only method, the only strategy to get in touch with really early life experiences and with really repressed, horrible trauma in pain and hurt.

What else can we say about acting out?

We know that acting out is connected to the unconscious, especially conflicts in the unconscious. We know that it's kind of a hidden message. The behaviors are ritualized. They carry information.

If you observe these behaviors, they are communicative and these communicative functions should be kept in mind because the specific characteristics of the actions associated with acting out could be determined with greater discrimination, could help us to understand the patient much better.

I refer you to work by Robert Hielo and Rex Vodvark.

When acting out is functioning as a defense against recalling painful memories, it is often the case in a neurotically structured personality as they used to be called.

I want to read you something about acting out from the Encyclopedia of Freud.

When acting out is primarily a way of communicating psychic content, having no other venue of expression, as is often the case in a narcissistically structured personality, where infantile trauma is a major factor in the pathology, the initial focus is on translating the unconscious communication embedded in the particular behavior.

Afterward, whatever is required to enhance symbolization and verbalization can be offered to the patient. When acting out is a reflection of developmental deficit, arrest or gap in psychic functioning. Usually created by early pre-verbal traumas, an opportunity must be presented for achieving new solutions to impossible infantile dilemmas accompanied by reconstruction of the original events.

This may include modifications in the conditions of the treatment until interpretive interventions can be reestablished as a primary therapeutic instrument.

This was written by Mendelssohn in 1991 and is one of the foundational pillars or insights in cold therapy.


But I will not go into it right now. I just finished giving one week cold therapy seminar and I've had it.

You can regard acting out as a window. It's a window into the patient's unconscious.

When you observe the patient's out of control behaviors, egodystonic because the patient doesn't recognize these behaviors, the patient rejects these behaviors.

Many patients experience guilt and shame after acting out these ego-distonic emotions, negative effects.

So when you observe the patient going through the motions of acting out almost on autopilot with extremely strong dissociative defenses, you realize that something infantile is going on, something that is not a doubt from the Freud Encyclopedia.

Others consider these early conflicts to be analyzable only by changing the technique.

Using concrete experiences of involvement to replace interpretations is a primary therapeutic instrument, which is exactly what cold therapy does. It provides experience rather than interpretation.

This is based on Winnicott's work, Bayland, Ghetto, and others.

These clinicians continue the Freud Encyclopedia believe that serious failures in early development demand technical changes because only concrete experiences, only concrete experiences, for example, trauma, re-traumatizing the patient, can alleviate these arrests or gaps in development.

Interpretations being symbolic acts can never reach what has not been symbolized.

And so the Encyclopedia concludes, thus when pre-verbal traumas are embedded in unconscious wishes, any modification would serve only to strengthen repressive forces and work in opposition to their integration.

Furthermore, if psychic contents are transformed into actions to avoid remembering, to gain the therapist's participation in living out an unconscious fantasy, or to reinforce a pathological defense, containing influences of a well-managed treatment framework are required if the meaning of the behavior is to be understood well enough to offer appropriate interpretations.

Yet the therapeutic relationship must also have room for creative, non-interpretive interventions when they are called for.

In most instances, these would involve pre-verbal experiences requiring unique conditions in order to be re-enacted.

Again, that's a philosophical background for cold therapy.

A very interesting side story about acting out is what came to be called in the 20s and 30s the active technique.

The active technique was developed by Fervensie and later Rank, who were two dominant psychoanalysts in that period. And the active technique was a variation of psychoanalysis. It was first introduced in 1924.

The analyst in the active technique does not confine himself to interpretation. He issues injunctions and prohibitions, and he provides gratification.

However, if the patient resists these interventions, if the patient objects, then the patient's behavior is labeled acting out.

So in active technique, you can't win as a patient. If you go along with the therapist, you're essentially traumatized and abused, but not like in cold therapy, not with a goal in, not with an end game. You just experience trauma and abuse, and you feel that they lead you nowhere.

And if you resist this mistreatment, you're acting out.

And so, Shando Fervensie suggested to use injunctions, which are interventions aimed at converting repressed impulses into manifest actions. He actually wanted the patients to act out, and at the same time, prohibitions.

Once repressed impulses have been transformed into actions, once the patient has acted out, telling the patient to stop their actions. So it's like provoking the patient, the patient acts out, and then the therapist tells him, stop it, stop it.

There's a famous sketch with Bob Newhart, I think, where he is a therapist in the sketch, and this patient comes to him, and she's a kind of new agey, fluffy, all over the place person. And she begins to share her pains and her traumas, and her mother abused her, and this and that, and he keeps telling her, stop it, just stop it.

It's a very funny sketch. I recommend that you look it up. I think Bob Newhart was the comedian.

Anyhow, that's active technique. So acting out was incorporated into active technique, as a therapeutic tool. And the thinking was that a certain amount of acting out facilitates the recall of repressed material.

This is a side story. Acting out is actually a strategy to resolve internal conflicts.

Interpreting the acting out by observing the process of acting out, the content of acting out, how the body participates, the interpretation is very important, of course, teaches us about the person who is acting out.

But acting out is much more common than we think. I am against, I'm against conflating acting out and antisocial.

Acting out is not necessarily antisocial. Actually, in most cases, it's self-defeating, self-destructive. It doesn't hurt or harm other people. It hurts and harms the act or out.

But acting out does appear in other settings. For example, temper tantrums can be perceived or interpreted as acting out.

As a child is unable to verbalize, is unable to speak, or at least unable to communicate effectively. And the child experiences frustration and pain and anger. And so he throws a temper tantrum.

And clinically, that is acting out. Even if the frustration is about gathering attention, getting attention, still there is frustration, still there is an inner dissonance. And if you can't verbalize it, and instead you enact it, then you're acting out.

Again, it's a cry for attention or a cry for hell. It can be construed, of course, as delinquent or pre-delinquent behavior. It is very disruptive, but it's still acting out.

Similarly, addiction. Addiction can be easily construed or described as acting out because when you consume substances, when you abuse substances, you create an illusion of being in control. And you need to be in control because your internal turmoil is too much to handle. The mess inside you, the maiden, is too much.

And so you're going out of your, you're using your body to regain illusory, hallucinatory control over what's happening inside you. It's a struggle, but a struggle that is not verbalized, it's somatized. And it involves repetition. It's a great definition of addiction, actually.

So multiple emotions, such as fear or shame or anger, they usually lead to addiction as a solution.

And in this sense, in this strict clinical sense, of course, it's acting out. Of course, many criminal actions, criminal acts are forms of acting out. Juvenile delinquency, especially.

Because in, when juveniles act criminally, they are rarely focused on a go. Their aim is internal. They externalize aggression as a way to resolve internal conflicts.

Criminaljuvenile delinquency is an outcome of disrupted socialization when the adolescent is unable to cope with the stresses, the perceived rejection and humiliation, the failure, in other words, dissonance, and acts out by becoming antisocial and criminalized.

You see examples of acting out in action. I'm going to act out now. I'm going to cut you off. All of you, you don't let me talk. You refuse to listen to me. So I have to act. I'm going to use my body or what's left of it to say goodbye.

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Psychological defense mechanisms are designed to prevent inner conflict and maintain comfort with oneself. They reduce anxiety and prevent disintegration by falsifying reality and denying or repressing undesirable parts of oneself. Splitting, projection, and projective identification are key mechanisms that falsify reality and manage self-perception. Splitting involves seeing oneself as all good and others as all bad, avoiding guilt or shame. Projection attributes one's own unacceptable traits to others, while projective identification goes further, inducing others to behave in ways that confirm the projection. Reaction formation involves adopting behaviors that are the opposite of one's unacceptable impulses, such as a latent homosexual displaying homophobia. These mechanisms are crucial for internal tranquility but can distort reality and interpersonal perceptions.


Avoid Mentally Ill: No Families, Relationships

Mentally ill people want to be normal, but it is a lie that therapists and psychologists tell them that they can be cured and lead a normal life. Mental illness is a lifelong condition that is part of a person's identity and cannot be cured or healed. Mentally ill people should be managed, regulated, and isolated to prevent them from causing harm to themselves and others. Instead of seeking normalcy and intimacy, mentally ill people should focus on their areas of high functioning and accept their limitations.


Relationship Obsessive–compulsive Disorder (ROCD): Tormenting Doubts re: Partners and Relationships

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (ROCD), a form of OCD that focuses on intimate relationships. ROCD can manifest in two ways: relationship-centered, where individuals obsess over their own feelings towards their partner and the rightness of the relationship, and partner-focused, where individuals obsess over their partner's perceived flaws. ROCD can be debilitating and negatively impact relationships and overall life. Treatment for ROCD typically involves cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and, in some cases, medication.


Disorders of Eating and Personality (3rd International Conference on Neurology and Brain Disorders)

Eating disorders are complex and often comorbid with personality disorders, particularly borderline personality disorder. The key to improving the mental state of patients with both disorders is to focus on their eating and sleeping disorders first. By controlling their eating disorder, patients can reassert control over their lives, leading to better regulation of their sense of self-worth, enhanced self-confidence, and self-esteem. Treatment options include medication, cognitive or behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and family therapy. Recovery prognosis is good after two years of treatment and support.


Mentally Ill: Bail Out, Save Yourself - Not THEM!

Mentally ill people often emotionally blackmail others into becoming their rescuers, and once they have, they want to infect them with their illness. This is because they want to share their pain and feel accepted. However, mentally ill people do not want to be helped, and they have strong resistances and defenses against healing. Therefore, it is important to harden your heart and walk away from mentally ill people to save yourself.


Psychosexuality of the Personality Disordered

Sexual behavior can reveal a lot about a person's personality, including their psychosexual makeup, emotions, cognitions, socialization, traits, heredity, and learned and acquired behaviors. Patients with personality disorders often have thwarted and stunted sexuality. For example, paranoid personality disorder patients depersonalize their sexual partners, while schizoid personality disorder patients are asexual. Histrionic personality disorder patients use their sexuality to gain attention and narcissistic supply, while somatic narcissists and psychopaths use their partners' bodies to masturbate with. Borderline personality disorder patients use their sexuality to reward or punish their partners, while dependent personality disorder patients use it to enslave and condition their partners.


No Intimacy Without Personal Boundaries (Q&A)

Intimacy skills are inextricably linked to the capacity to maintain and enforce personal boundaries. People with personality disorders don't have personal boundaries, which makes it impossible for them to do intimacy. Intimacy is a balancing act between separateness and togetherness, sharing commonalities and having a private life separate from the partner. The younger generations have tremendous deficiencies in relationship and intimacy skills because they don't have the chance to experience even intimacy in relationships.


Eating Disorders and Personality Disorders

Eating disorders are impulsive behaviors that can exist with cluster B personality disorders, particularly with borderline personality disorders. The key to improving the mental state of patients who have been diagnosed with both a personality disorder and an eating disorder lies in focusing it first upon their eating and sleeping disorders and only then on their personality disorders. The treatment of personality disorders requires enormous, persistent and continuous investment of resources of every kind by everyone involved, especially the patient. Patients with eating disorders may be in mortal danger, and the therapist's goal is to buy them time.


New Year on Planet Mental Illness

Mental illness is a state of disconnect, a state of discontinuity and disjointedness. There's no gyroscope, no core identity, no guiding light, no northern star, no caressing hand, no embrace and no hugs and no warmth and no acceptance and no love. Mental illness is a cancer of the soul. It's all-consuming. It's all devouring. It's merciless. And its advance is unhindered by any external intervention.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
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