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Adatto, C.P. (1957). On Pouting. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 5:245-249.

(1957). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 5:245-249

On Pouting

Carl P. Adatto, M.D.

The expression of affect through the facial-mimetic musculature originates as an archaic and infantile mode of expression, conveying the biologically inherited and environmentally determined aspects of the individual. Fenichel states that among adults it still governs many of their relations with one another. "Even when full emotional spells have become rare, the facial expression signifies an involuntary equivalent of affects which, by means of empathy, informs spectators of the nature of the subject's feelings" (1). In addition, the connection of facial-mimetic expressions with early ego development and object relationship in infants has been discussed by Spitz and Wolf (4), Hendrick (2), and Kris (3) in regard to smiling and laughing. Specific facial-mimetic expressions thereby assume the role of an important psychic function, and because of this need to be subjected to analysis. They offer a readily available source of learning something of the vicissitudes of the individual's development, even though the patient's position on the couch does not permit a full view of his face.

Pouting falls into this category of behavior, combining a mimetic muscular attitude, the expression of the affect of sullenness, and silence. The verb "pout" is defined as follows: "To thrust out the lips, as in displeasure; hence, to look sullen" (5).


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