Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To see author affiliation information in an article…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

To see author affiliation and contact information (as available) in an article, simply click on the Information icon next to the author’s name in every journal article.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Harris, H.I. (1957). Telephone Anxiety. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 5:342-347.

(1957). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 5:342-347

Telephone Anxiety

Herbert I. Harris, M.D.

Fear or anxiety accompanying the use of the telephone is a symptom that is not uncommon. In my own experience it has appeared exclusively in male patients. In the majority of cases in which it has been encountered, it is relieved fairly readily by treatment. The symptom most often appears in the patients' discourse at the time when they are occupied with material from the oedipal phase.

Telephone anxiety would seem to contrast with the excessive use of the telephone observed in many patients with cyclical disorders who, as their euphoria increases, make phone calls of increasingly long distance and long duration. Some alcoholic patients show a similar use of the phone when drunk. At these times they talk with a press of speech comparable to that of the manic patient and are openly hostile and grandiose. Many of us have had parents comment upon the excessive use of the telephone by their adolescent daughters and sons. This addition to the telephone may well be motivated in part by the feeling of power that the insecure adolescent obtains. Among the symbolic meanings of the voice at unconscious levels the following seem to offer the most promising for understanding the dynamics of this symptom.

There are many associations to the voice both as a cutting instrument and as something to be cut. We have all heard of the immigrant who had a brogue so "thick it could be cut with a knife." Erikson (4) reports an adolescent who all through childhood had repetitive dreams of a pair of flapping scissors flying around a room. The scissors proved to be the mother's voice cuting and cutting off.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2020, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.