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September 1964

Study in Psychophysiology of Muscle Tension: II. Personality Factors

Author Affiliations

Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training, Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1964;11(3):330-345. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1964.01720270102012

The word "tension" is used interchangeably by laymen and psychiatrists to describe both psychological and muscular discomfort. Do these two areas have as much congruence with respect to "tension" as many have implied? When and to what degree is the neuromuscular system involved in the nonvoluntary expression of emotions and attitudes? Freud15 suggested that direct expression of drives was "bound" or delayed as the person shifted his functioning from primary to secondary process (in Jacksonian terms—"long circuiting"). In the course of learning to delay, motor impulses oriented toward gratifying behavior are checked and thought, which Freud termed "experimental action"16 intervenes. One might infer from this that adults arrested at various stages of this transition would vary in levels of muscle tension. Further, one might expect corresponding differences between clinical groups and between types of personality known