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February 1962

Use of Obscene Words in Psychotherapy

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1962;6(2):123-131. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1962.01710200015003

Introduction  Since 1900 much has been written about the use of obscene words: as they appear in everyday speech and writing* and as they appear in the psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic transaction.† The discussions in the psychiatric literature on obscene words and their use in psychotherapy have been built mainly around personal experiences and feelings as they relate to this specific area of our language, and around the psychoanalytic interpretation of the meaning of the words themselves, with a definite preponderance of the latter. No attempt has been made, so far as I am aware, to draw together the experiences of many therapists and from those experiences arrive at some conclusions regarding the clinical usefulness of obscenity if such usefulness indeed exists. This paper, then, is such an attempt.Two approaches to the task immediately suggested themselves. First a review of the literature, the aim