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Bonnard, A. (1960). The Primal Significance of the Tongue—(In Normal and Aberrant Conditions). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 41:301-307.

(1960). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 41:301-307

The Primal Significance of the Tongue—(In Normal and Aberrant Conditions)

Augusta Bonnard

Alexander Pope tells us that 'The proper study of mankind is man', but gives us no clue as to just where in ourselves that study begins. That is what this paper seeks to do. Man begins his study in terms of perceptual experiences, whose basis is almost wholly sensory, at any rate in the early phases of post-birth life.

In consequence of a wide variety of undirected observations on the tongue's attributes and activities at all periods of life, of which a selection is here presented, combined with the recall of well-established anatomical and physiological data, the following proposition is suggested for consideration: That the first unit in the scale of measurement of experience is the tongue, starting at its tip and ending in the area of the posterior taste buds. The corollary, to the effect that the tongue is of primary significance in the organization of the body-ego, as well as serving as a primal medium of object cathexis, was first introduced in a recent communication (1), wherein the tongue figured in the clinical material used to illustrate the title 'Pre-Body Ego Types of Mental Functioning'.

The material presented was derived from three patients whose history gave clinical evidence of early disturbances of ego synthesis and functioning. Briefly, the contention was that the pathology of their types of thought processes and affective responses lay, not in their archaic modes of functioning, but in their unmodified primacy of operation. In particular, certain of the metapsychological conclusions which were drawn derived from the discovery, in the course of the analysis of one of the child patients, of a hitherto clinically unknown, addictive, auto-erotic device, which he described as 'tongue swallowing'.

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