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June 1956

On Phantom Limbs

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1956;75(6):637-647. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1956.02330240075007
Abstract

The presentation to follow does not claim to be a finished piece of work, or a survey of all the facts, or a theory which will settle the problem of phantom limbs once and for all. Rather, it is the result of a long-standing interest, occasional but fairly systematic examination of patients, with infrequent glimpses into the literature. Such sporadic activity is bound to raise more problems than it settles, but these problems themselves are fascinating, at least to my mind, and eminently worth while discussing.

In recent years psychiatrists have become interested in problems of amputation phantoms or, to be specific, in the motivational dynamics associated with painful amputation phantoms. Their discussions might at times lead us to believe that these are the only kind of phantoms, or at least the only ones worthy of note, despite the fact that while probably about 98% of all amputees experience phantom

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