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Penrose, L.S. (1927). Some Psycho-Analytical Notes on Negation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 8:47-52.

(1927). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 8:47-52

Some Psycho-Analytical Notes on Negation

L. S. Penrose

In a recent paper Freud pointed out that a negative judgement was the intellectual substitute for repression; the 'Not', he said, in which such a judgement was expressed was the hall mark of repression—a certificate of origin, as it were, like 'Made in Germany'. There is, however, a corollary to this proposition—the proof of which is a matter of everyday experience—that an assertion or over-emphasized positive statement indicates dissent in the unconscious.

I can think of three main methods by which statements are found to be over-emphasized in this suspicious way, which occur frequently both within the psycho-analytic situation and outside it. The first is direct over-emphasis. By this I mean stating a thought in a specially arresting manner, making use of a loud voice or large print or other special conditions, or providing gratuitous information. For example, a patient came to be examined in hospital after being told by his own doctor that there was nothing wrong with him to be found; and after the electro-cardiograph, X-ray and other examinations had proved negative, he said that he hoped so very much that he had given no one any trouble, and was not and probably did not expect to be believed. The second method is repetition. This is used especially in religious proceedings, where the attempt is made to establish the validity of a belief by repeating it over and over again. A typical psycho-analytic example of the process is the attempt to conceal castration ideas by polyphallic symbolism, and an outstanding popular instance is the repetition of statements in the hope of establishing thus their truth in the therapeutic treatment of Coué. The third method is tautology, that is, disguised repetition. The same idea is expressed twice, and the two expressions are equated, giving rise to the illusion of a reference to concrete fact. This form of assertion is used extensively by philosophers, and it is to be found in paranoic systems.

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