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Balkányi, C. (1964). On Verbalization. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:64-74.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:64-74

On Verbalization

Charlotte Balkányi

Although the concept of verbalization does not appear at first sight to have an extensive psycho-analytical literature, it is, in fact, implicit in the most important part of psycho-analytical theory. Freud discovered the function of verbalization and it was he who first pointed out the importance of its role in mental functioning. The term 'verbalization', however, did not appear in psycho-analytical nomenclature until rather late. Freud left the concept unverbalized. The word 'verbalization' does not exist in German. Freud knew but did not adopt the term. I shall return to this point later.

So far as I have been able to trace, Robert Fliess (1949) was the first among analysts to use the term verbalization. The word appears in Fenichel's The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis(1945), but is there used in a descriptive sense only. When writing of the verbal function proper, Fenichel still refers to it as speech. Fliess, at the beginning of his paper, considered the act of speaking as 'a phase of and distinguished from verbalization', but later in the paper this difference was lost sight of. After finding the English term verbalization with which psycho-analytical terminology had been enriched by Fliess, he realized that Ella Sharpe, in her most interesting paper on Metaphor (1940) dealt not only with the topic of speech and language but also with verbalization. This is obvious from Fliess's note introducing the republication of Sharpe's paper in the Psycho-analytic Reader in 1950.

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