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Berkeley-Hill, O. (1921). A Note on the Symbolic Use of Figures. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 2:206-206.

(1921). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 2:206-206

A Note on the Symbolic Use of Figures

Owen Berkeley-Hill

The employment of figures as symbols by children and psychopaths has already received a great deal of attention, so that the subject has accumulated quite a small literature of its own.

The following case makes a contribution to the subject:

A patient of mine, an Anglo-Indian youth, aged 23, while undergoing psycho-analysis told me that the figure 2 appeared to him to be "exactly like a foetus in the uterus", so that whenever he saw the numeral 2 he always thought of a foetus. Also, whenever he read the figure 3 he "always saw it horizontal ", in which position, he said, it always reminded him of a "woman's buttocks".

The case is an interesting one of obsessional neurosis concerned with a fear of pregnancy through homosexual coitus. One of the remarkable features of the case is that prior to the onset of an acute homosexual panic, which developed later into a catatonic dissociation, the patient had suffered for years from an intense Brontephobia. At the beginning of the acute stage of his illness, the patient recollects the occurrence of a violent thunderstorm, and, during the height of the storm, he recollects standing out in the garden of the hospital, as he expressed it to me, "defying the lightning". From that moment he has never experienced any fear of thunderstorms.

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