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June 1943


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Psychiatry and the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic, Johns Hopkins University and Hospital, and Harvard University.

Arch NeurPsych. 1943;49(6):831-851. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1943.02290180055006

The study of language behavior offers a significant and fascinating approach to the study of mentation in psychotic conditions. In a simple and common sense way, this is recognized in every "mental status" recorded, but the possibilities of more penetrating study are not usually utilized fully, because of obvious difficulties. Curiosity is often blunted, also, by the naive assumption that one says what one means and means what one says, a supposition which leads the listener to believe that the meanings called to his mind by the patient's language are a precise transcript of the patient's meanings—certainly a precarious assumption in the ordinary transaction of asking for road directions, and likely to be an even more precarious guide to the psychotic patient's mentation. Considered simply as behavior, however, speech productions are impeccably objective. Indeed, for the study of behavior, speech has one striking advantage—it can be subdivided into specific and

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