[Skip to Navigation]
December 1964

Body-Buffer Zone: Exploration of Personal Space

Author Affiliations

NP Service, US Naval Hospital, (Dr. Horowitz and Dr. Duff), and Langley Porter NP Institute, San Francisco (Miss Stratton).
The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private ones of the authors and are not to be construed as official or as necessarily reflecting the views of the Medical Department of the Navy or of the Naval Service at large.
Clinical Investigation Center and Neuropsychiatric Service, US Naval Hospital.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1964;11(6):651-656. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1964.01720300081010

Measurements of personal space, the area immediately surrounding an individual, demonstrate its reality and its function as a bodybuffer zone in interpersonal transactions.

The idea of personal space entered behavioral science with ethologic studies of territoriality.1,2 Subsequently, anthropologists noted that human spatial use was an important variable in studying cultural patterns.3 The psychiatric literature rarely refers to space, yet it is artfully and intuitively used by psychotherapists: closeness and distance, as well as the relative position of the patient and therapist, are modulated in therapy.

Clinical observations, aided by interaction painting4 and topographic mapping of individual and group utilization of space, led to the predictions that: (1) there would be a certain reproducible distance which persons impose between themselves and objects or persons, and (2) in certain schizophrenic patients this distance would be relatively increased. To test these

Add or change institution