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August 1960

Visual Denotation of Human Sounds: Preliminary Report of an Acoustic Method

Author Affiliations

San Francisco
Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California School of Medicine, and Attending Psychiatrist, Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1960;3(2):117-121. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1960.01710020001001

The purpose of this report is to present an acoustic method for denoting human sounds. Correct interpretation of the sounds emitted by patients is one requisite of psychiatric diagnosis. Whenever these sounds are words it is relatively easy to record them in writing, to communicate about them with colleagues, and to discuss their meaning with patients. The words of patients are also excellent subjects for research, since they lend themselves to established linguistic and semantic methods of analysis.5 However, patients make many sounds that are not words.6 They groan, grunt, burp, bellow, whine, wheeze, and produce noises. As Kris, Milner, and others have shown, these and other nonverbal sounds play a primary role in the communication of affects.2,3 Speech itself is used expressively; stress and inflection patterns of the voice often carry more important information about the speaker than do the words he

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