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Orsucci, F. (2006). Commentary on “Testing Freud's Hypothesis That Word Forms and Word Meaning are Functionally Distinct”. Neuropsychoanalysis, 8(2):146-148.

(2006). Neuropsychoanalysis, 8(2):146-148

Commentary on “Testing Freud's Hypothesis That Word Forms and Word Meaning are Functionally Distinct” Related Papers

Franco Orsucci

Semiotics in Evolving Psychodynamic Theories

Beware the man of one book

Thomas Aquinas

1.   This very interesting experimental work with important theoretical implications was designed to test one of the main Freudian theories on language. As language forms the foundations of psychoanalysis both as a theory of mind and as a clinical practice, linguistic studies such as this one are very welcome.

The authors define their focus on “one of Freud's seminal hypotheses first appearing in his early monograph On Aphasia (1891) posited that word meaning and word presentation (e.g., phonemic and graphemic properties) needed to be distinguished if aphasic symptoms were to be accurately understood. In his later psychoanalytic writing this supposition was generalized to refer to the primary process uses of language in dreams, symptom formation, and unconscious processes.”

They design an experiment “to test Freud's hypothesis that word meaning and word presentation are functionally distinct when processed unconsciously.” They conclude that “Taken together, these findings support Freud's hypothesis that the perceptual object dimension of a word, being functionally distinct from its meaning, can give rise to novel sequential processing, an effect which is more likely to occur unconsciously (i.e., d' < 0) and under conditions of anxiety.”

2.   This kind of experimentaluncover design might have some caveats certainly known by the authors:

Most priming studies have used a paradigm in which subjects are presented with isolated pairs or triplets of words, some subset of which are related associatively.

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