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December 1957

Expressive Form in Schizophrenic Language

Author Affiliations

Waverley, Mass.

From McLean Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1957;78(6):643-652. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1957.02330420103019

In the course of ordinary experience, certain assumptions implicit in the use of language allow for a smooth, flexible transaction of daily affairs. Language is expected to communicate rational thought. This postulate, indispensable to the intent or purpose governing the use of language, may shift imperceptibly to attach to language itself. Language, as a concept, is often treated as synonymous with communication or with logical thought.

Communication, and the transmission of intelligible meaning, are values perceived in language and assigned to language. The schizophrenic patient's language meets these criteria only imperfectly. Under these conditions it may be of value to examine language within a wider range of its functions and operations.

For the therapist, "understanding" the language of a schizophrenic patient often involves a capacity to empathize with the patient and, by a process of identification, to unravel the complex meaning of the symbols used. The words then become intelligible

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