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June 1952


Author Affiliations


From the Psychiatric Service, Massachusetts General Hospital; the Massachusetts General Hospital Branch of the Hall-Mercer Hospital, Boston, and the McLean Hospital, Waverley, Mass.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1952;67(6):763-770. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1952.02320180040006

SPOKEN language is one major aspect of the total behavior pattern of a patient. Apart from the meaning of the words, one may obtain cues as to the patient's thoughts and emotions from the characteristics of speech itself. Exact methods of observation and analysis of speech may prove to be useful for better understanding of psychological reactions.

The patient uses words with regard to their meaning, relates words and sentences to each other, conveys some impression to the listener. These activities can be roughly paralleled with Carnap's1 postulates of the functions of language as semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic. Where an obvious distortion in the use of language is apparent, as is so clearly manifest in the mentally ill patient, a descriptive localization of the defect within these areas should theoretically be possible. One of us (S. C.)2 has outlined the possibilities of examining speech for psychological trends and

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