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Acting Out

  1. Hans Toch

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0011

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Toch, H. 2010. Acting Out. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. State University of New York at Albany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The term “acting out” has been used to label behavior in a variety of contexts, ranging from preschools and kindergartens (to describe kids such as Johnny, who has decimated a prized collection of stuffed animals, and thrown them about) to psychological treatment settings (with regard to patients like Mildred, who has punched her therapist in the nose after he offered her a particularly insightful interpretation). The concept is most extensively in vogue, however, in organizations that deal with criminal offenders or persons who have been diagnosed as having mental health problems.