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March 1967

Relationship of Language to the Thinking Process

Author Affiliations

From the Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training, Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(3):325-333. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730210065011

THE interrelationship of thought and language is an extremely complex problem. The disciplines of psychiatry, psychology, philology, and philosophy have grappled with the issue for many years, but the results have yielded no generally accepted resolution of the issue. In surveying the literature, this paper will attempt to present in cursory form a summary of the findings of the different disciplines.

Psychologists and psychiatrists seem to group themselves around two poles of thought on the subject of thought and language. On one end of the continuum are those whose theories fit within the broad scope of the behaviorist school, which believes that thought is nothing more than subvocal speech.1 Holding this general view are people such as Piaget,2 Watson,1 Vigotsky,3 McCarthy,4 Oleron,5 Wells,6 Bruner,7 and Freud.8 Some experimental findings on transposition behavior, concept formation, and abstracting

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