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Jelliffe, S.E. (1940). The Parkinsonian Body Posture: Some Considerations on Unconscious Hostility. Psychoanal. Rev., 27(4):467-479.

(1940). Psychoanalytic Review, 27(4):467-479

The Parkinsonian Body Posture: Some Considerations on Unconscious Hostility

Smith Ely Jelliffe, M.D.

An understanding of the meaning and significance of motor processes characterizes the present gradual and almost imperceptible transition from a more static to a dynamic neurology. In the following I shall endeavor to show the manner in which it is possible to distinguish a specific element of hostility among the various significant elements which go to make up the characteristic body postures of Parkinsonism, defense reactions constituting markedly the motor picture of this syndrome most frequently met with. If one wishes to proceed from a description of this motor picture to an understanding of it, it will be necessary to complement objective observation with a comprehension of the factors lying in the depth of the personality, which influence the motor system—namely the unconscious in Freud's sense.

While this study is not exclusively a psychoanalytic one, the attempt will be made to apply the psychoanalytic method to the study of Parkinsonism, both of the senile-arteriosclerotic and of the encephalitic type. The results lead not only to an understanding of the Parkinsonian body posture, but are of special value for the psychotherapy of Parkinsonism. The thought of such a psychotherapy does not imply the abandonment of the use of approved medication. Medication may be used, in connection with psychoanalysis, as a preparatory or complementary measure. We defend the view, however, that today it is no longer sufficient to depend alone on drugs, of the pharmacodynamics of which there is little real knowledge, though empirically their use may be justified, without taking into consideration the psychological factors which here play so great a rǒle.


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