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Fenichel, O. (1943). Psychophysical Problems Revealed in Language: An Examination of Metaphor: Ella Freeman Sharpe. Int. J. Psa., XXI, 1940, pp. 201–213.. Psychoanal Q., 12:291-291.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psychophysical Problems Revealed in Language: An Examination of Metaphor: Ella Freeman Sharpe. Int. J. Psa., XXI, 1940, pp. 201–213.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:291-291

Psychophysical Problems Revealed in Language: An Examination of Metaphor: Ella Freeman Sharpe. Int. J. Psa., XXI, 1940, pp. 201–213.

Otto Fenichel

Freud has shown that the words which patients choose to express themselves reveal their unconscious attitudes. Since then the connections between the unintended form of the verbal expression and the unconscious has been investigated in detail. Ferenczi, in his paper, The Analysis of Comparisons, showed how expressions which are meant by the patients as allusions are direct expressions of the unconscious. On the other hand, it is known that metaphors and idioms which are being used abstractly today, once had a concrete, usually magic, meaning which may still be alive in the unconscious of the patients who use them.

Sharpe connects these findings by showing how details of the metaphorical expressions of patients, no matter whether they are traditional idioms or new creations, show the unconscious origin of the metaphors, which are usually based on the experiences of the archaic ego. Sharpe starts her series of examples with the expressions 'to hold' and 'to keep in' emotions. Emotions are thought of as something material and are treated like fæces. Words have taken the place of physical products, language in general has taken the place of the more original and direct expressions of emotion. Some metaphors are rooted in certain oral (sucking) experiences and some of these show the reaction to weaning. Others are rooted in other specific experiences to which they allude such as certain details of training in cleanliness. The repetitious use of the word 'really' by a patient could be traced to doubts about the reality of traumatic experiences in his childhood.

Unfortunately, not all of her examples are equally convincing. The way in which depressive patients talked about their depressions led Miss Sharpe to the conviction that, 'I have no doubt that the psychial state of depression first accompanied bodily states when the child lay cold, wet and miserable in bed waiting in hopelessness or fearfulness of being lifted up and rescued from the rut'.

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Article Citation

Fenichel, O. (1943). Psychophysical Problems Revealed in Language: An Examination of Metaphor. Psychoanal. Q., 12:291-291

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