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Erickson, M.H. Kubie, L.S. (1938). The Use of Automatic Drawing in the Interpretation and Relief of a State of Acute Obsessional Depression. Psychoanal Q., 7:443-466.

(1938). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 7:443-466

The Use of Automatic Drawing in the Interpretation and Relief of a State of Acute Obsessional Depression

Milton H. Erickson and Lawrence S. Kubie

No matter how accurate any body of scientific theory may be, its confirmation by the use of some technique other than that on which the theory first rested is always valuable. This is the most convincing way of ruling out the misleading influence of possible undetected methodological fallacies. With this in mind, the following case is reported in detail because, by means of a non-psychoanalytic technique, it illustrates a certain type of symbolic activity which is comparable in character to that studied by psychoanalysis in dreams and in psychotic states, and because of its clear demonstration of certain of the dynamic relationships which exist between conscious and unconscious aspects of the human psyche. Finally, it is reported because of our interest in this general type of technique as a means of uncovering unconscious material, and because of the challenge this may offer to certain phases of psychoanalytic technique.


A twenty-four-year-old girl attended a clinical demonstration of hypnosis for a class in psychology at the university. At this demonstration particular emphasis was laid on the phenomenon of automatic writing and on the integrated functioning of subconscious processes as a seemingly independent entity in the total psyche.

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