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September 1960

The Office Therapy of Psychosomatic Disorders

Author Affiliations

Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry, Northwestern University, and Director of Education, Illinois State Psychiatric Institute.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1960;3(3):320-329. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1960.01710030106013

Perhaps in no other sphere of human thought—except possibly in advertising, politics, and theology—are words used as loosely as they are in psychiatry. This curious kinship among four of the potent influences on human behavior is perhaps related to the fact that in all of them words are employed mainly to conceal the speaker's or writer's intent or ignorance while exhorting the buyer, voter, disciple, or patient to do as the word user wishes. Trouble arises, however, when the speaker is carried away by his own attempts at verbal legerdemain and, like Dukas' sorcerer's apprentice, releases a flood of ambiguities that threatens to wash away recognizable realities until someone calls a halt to the engulfing torrent.

These reflections were elicited by the intriguing topic I was assigned to discuss: "The Office Therapy of Psychosomatic Disorders." Let us take a closer

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