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Lomas, H.D. (1973). Graffiti: Some Observations and Speculations. Psychoanal. Rev., 60:71-89.

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(1973). Psychoanalytic Review, 60(1):71-89

Graffiti: Some Observations and Speculations

Harvey D. Lomas, M.D.

Introduction And Background

In 1962, while interning at a large public hospital, I observed—for the first time, so it seemed—prolific writing on walls in quarters restricted to the medical staff. Lengthy and involved messages were especially abundant on bathroom walls. I was surprised that physicians would carry on such a practice but quickly forgot the matter. In 1965 I brought this and similar observations to the attention of a friend, Gershon Weltman, whose enthusiasm and encouragement provided the impetus for an unexpected, common research effort which culminated in the presentation of a paper at the 1966 meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.17 Briefly, Weltman suggested we go ourselves, first to the literature, then into the field, to collect and categorize the data. Much to our surprise we found virtually no literature by psychologists on the subject of graffiti in contrast to an overabundant supply of pictures and writing of every description on walls in every conceivable location and some writings on the subject by archaeologists,2,19 historians,4,16 folklorists,5 and epigraphers.20 Feeling confident that we had made a significant discovery, Weltman and I eagerly awaited the judgment of the scientific community, only to be refused publication.


* Presented at a research meeting of the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Society Institute, June 25, 1970.

I must also acknowledge the equally enthusiastic support of Charles Wahl, Edward Kollar, and Jack Lamas.

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