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Schimel, J.L. (1968). The Grammar of Psychoanalysis: Sullivan Revisited. Contemp. Psychoanal., 5(1):32-40.

(1968). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 5(1):32-40

The Grammar of Psychoanalysis: Sullivan Revisited Related Papers

John L. Schimel, M.D.

GRAMMAR RELATES to correct usage. Sullivan devoted himself to correct usage, to the refinement of word and concept as they related to the primary datum, the patient. Grammar is the study of "the elements or principles of any science or art, " as well as "that branch of linguistic science which treats of the classes of words, their inflections or other means of indicating relation to each other, and their functions and relations in the sentence, as employed according to esablished usage." Sullivan, above all other matters, related himself to a study of the productions of his patients, both in verbal and nonverbal behavior, in relation to "established usage."

Two tasks evolve from such an orientation. The first is to determine the content and the form of established usage and the second, the nature of the patient's relation to the form and content of established usage. The former entails a mastery of the sciences of man in relation to his environment, chiefly linguistics, semantics, sociology, anthropology, and ecology; and the second, an understanding of the patient's adherence to and deviation from such norms.

Sullivan showed no particular interest in the so-called normal but an intense interest in the normative. He did not deny the notion of unique individuality and gave every evidence of respecting it but did not feel the scientist could operate in that field.

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