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Abraham, K. (1924). Blunders with an Over-Compensating Tendency. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:197-200.

(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:197-200

Blunders with an Over-Compensating Tendency

Karl Abraham

It can be said of all the numerous phenomena described by Freud in his Psychopathologie des Alltagslebens that they are antagonistic to the conscious intentions of the person concerned. The tendency running counter to conscious interest takes, however, a different course in various forms of blunders. For instance, it can fall a victim to repression; this happens when we forget words, proper names, etc. In the example 'aliquis' quoted by Freud, forgetting this word prevented certain 'painful' associations from becoming conscious. On the other hand, the effect of mistakes in speaking or writing is different; here the tendency that is disagreeable to consciousness has forced its way in a disturbing manner into the performance that consciousness had in view. Blunders can be divided into two groups according to their effects; namely, those blunders in which the tendency that is diverted from consciousness is neutralized, and those in which it can express itself at least by hints.

For some time now I have occasionally come across blunders during my psycho-analyses which seem to belong to a third variety, not mentioned in the Psychopathologie des Alltagslebens. I recently met with a frequently recurring example of this kind in a patient, which is the occasion of this short communication.

The patient, whose articulation is usually quite normal, tends to duplicate the first syllable of proper names by making a slight stutter. This condition troubles her very much and keeps her in a state of anxiety during the time she is teaching in class. She is afraid of being asked to read aloud for fear of coming across a proper name which would stimulate the trouble.

One day she told me of a name she had mispronounced on one of these occasions. The blunder was certainly a mistake in pronouncing a word, but not of the duplicating kind just mentioned. She had altered the Greek name Protagoras into Protragoras.

Her associations very soon led to another mistake in speaking which actually was a duplication of the first syllable, and which had occurred a few moments before the blunder 'Protragoras'. She had said 'A-alexandros' instead of 'Alexandros'.

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