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Naftalin, M. (1975). Watch Your Language. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 3(3):307-319.

(1975). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 3(3):307-319

Watch Your Language

Moses Naftalin

Knowledge of the language of the dream and of the dreamer are indispensable to the dream's interpretation. Similarly, in the case of the analyst, a competent if not superior knowledge of the medium through which we hope to attain our goals—in our case the English language—should not be considered to be beyond our duty and expectations. Our ultimate aims are: the integration and organization of the individual's thoughts and emotions; the clarification and definition of those emotions; the unity of the more or less fragmented ego; the bringing of greater harmony within them, in place of dissonance and sometimes chaos; the achievement of internal peace and tranquillity instead of civil war. The more precise and expert our knowledge of language, the more efficacious becomes our technique to accomplish these aims.

The patient is not often on solid ground in his ability to convey his feelings, and leaves himself, and us, vague as to what emotions he has experienced in certain circumstances or even what he is experiencing in our presence and why. The surprise and delight which illuminate the face of the individual at the moment of insight is an exciting and exalting experience not only for the patient but also for us. In addition, such insight helps form a bond—the very meaning of the word communication—between the physician and his patient. The use of language, the appropriate mot juste, the concise and correct words uttered in the right order and at the right moment aid the patient in achieving emotional insight and identifying and delineating his problems; it even identifies the patient for and to himself.

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