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Lewy, E. (1954). On Micropsia. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 35:13-19.

(1954). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 35:13-19

On Micropsia

Ernst Lewy, M.D.

The phenomon of micropsia is 'a condition in which objects seen seem to be smaller than they really are', one variety of the 'metamorphopsias'. It has been mentioned in scattered places in the pre-psycho-analytic psychiatric and neurological literature either as a hysterical symptom or as occurring in the epileptic aura, in cases of brain injury or in so-called constitutional neurasthenia. I omit here a discussion of most of the pre-analytic literature, as it is of little interest to us.

No interpretation of a possible psychological meaning of this phenomenon was at that time given or even attempted.

The first time that a non-analytic observer approached a psychological understanding of the phenomenon of micropsia was, to my knowledge, in a German paper, 'Makropsie und Mikropsie bei Basedowoiden. Ein Beitrag zur Konstitutionsforschung und Entwicklungsgeschichte', by W. Neuhaus. The author, who observed micropsia in cases of mild hyperthyroidism, drew the following conclusions: Affective factors are mainly responsible for causing changes in the object seen. He believed that a relation existed between an attitude of joyful excitement, sympathy towards objects, a sense of encompassing them and macropsia on the one side, and a defensive antipathy and micropsia on the other. This is very interesting if compared with some of the later psycho-analytic findings. The first mention of microptic phenomena in a psycho-analytic paper occurs in Ferenczi's 'Gulliver Phantasies', to which we shall refer again later.

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