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June 1967

Muscle Tension and PersonalityA Serious Second Look

Author Affiliations

From the Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training, Michael Reese Hospital Medical Center, Chicago. Dr. Oken is now at the Clinical Research Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(6):720-726. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730240076012

AN EARLIER study reported by us (Shipman et al1) of the effects of stress and deliberate control on muscle tension indicated a relation between electromygraphic (EMG) readings and personality traits. More specifically, findings of that research, which involved 15 depressed patients, revealed a positive correlation between scores on the Thurstone Emotional Stability (E) scale and muscle scores, ie, those who were more healthy emotionally had greater muscle tension. Furthermore, individuals high on these two dimensions tended also to see much movement and many barrier percepts on the Rorschach and Holtzman inkblots. Conversely, variables indicative of abnormal emotional functioning, eg, anxiety and depression, appeared to be negatively related with the muscle values.

The project of central interest in this paper, which will henceforth be denoted as the present study, was designed in the hopes of replicating the earlier findings and of expanding the available

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