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Andresen, J.J. (1980). Why People Talk to Themselves. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 28:499-517.

(1980). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 28:499-517

Why People Talk to Themselves

Jeffry J. Andresen, M.D.

SOME PEOPLE TALK TO THEMSELVES. They speak aloud but address their words to no one around them. This habit, psychoanalytic investigation reveals, can be highly pleasurable. But, conversely, the habit is also somewhat notorious, for many jokes make talking to oneself the cardinal sign of mental illness.

This phenomenon of pleasurable talking to oneself deserves investigation, and I have assembled evidence bearing on the matter, evidence drawn from the treatments of five patients. Four were analysands, all with a capacity for triadic love relations. The remaining patient was less mature. The sample is, then, a limited one, for it does not include people who have never been patients, people of foreign cultures, or people who are psychotic. The sample is limited in another respect in that it does not include examples of all forms that talking to oneself can take. It does not include, for example, instances when such talks are unpleasurable or when solitary speaking is actually the addressing of an hallucinated presence. I shall limit my literature review and discussion to consideration of the evocative power of the act and its relation to mourning processes.

Clinical Data

The Satisfactions of Talking to Oneself

Case 1: A married male graduate student, an analysand with high ambitions for himself, would feel shame when remembering

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