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Menninger, K.A. (1924). Letters of the Alphabet in Psycho-Analytic Formations. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:462-465.

(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:462-465

Letters of the Alphabet in Psycho-Analytic Formations

Karl A. Menninger

Much has been written about the psycho-analytic significance of numbers, but much less, so far as I can determine, about letters of the alphabet as they occur in the dreams, symptoms, and free associations of neurotic patients. Some examples taken from patients seen within a single year will illustrate a few of the innumerable possibilities.

THE LETTER 'I'

Case 1. Every analyst must have been struck with the frequent interpolation of the letter 'I' into the product of free association material, usually referring to the patient. One of the prettiest manifestations of this that I have seen was in a high-school girl of seventeen who was under treatment for a typical hysteria of short duration. Her symptoms centred about the infantile birth-theories, conversions having been stimulated by certain recent eroticisms. This is mentioned only that a better understanding of the situation may be grasped. In discussing her guilty phantasies one morning she gave me a memorandum upon which had been written several topic words; one of them was the word SHIEK. When asked about this, she said, 'Oh, yes, you know that moving picture that was here; well, I saw the movie. The book is worse than the movie. I didn't read the book, but I know all about it'.

'Well', she went on, 'I've had day-dreams about that. I've fancied that I was that woman and went through with the whole thing.'

'But', I asked her, 'does this spell sheik?'

'No', she said, 'no, it doesn't, does it? S-H-E-I-K spells sheik. I misspelled it.'

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