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Menninger, K.A. (1935). Unconscious Values in Certain Consistent Mispronunciations. Psychoanal Q., 4:614-615.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 4:614-615

Unconscious Values in Certain Consistent Mispronunciations

Karl A. Menninger

A few years ago I reported some psychoanalytic observations on the way in which letters of the alphabet are used by patients as symbols of multiple meaning. It is well known, for example, that certain individuals habitually omit certain letters in spelling or have difficulty in forming the capitals of certain letters. The following report deals with a somewhat similar type of inhibition with reference to the correct pronunciation of words.

In a paper read before the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society in November, 1933, Dr. Lionel Blitzsten, of Chicago, emphasized the importance of observing and investigating certain habitual mispronunciations made by analytic patients. This analysis of the specific meaning of such unconscious confessions is to be differentiated from the now somewhat "old fashioned" emphasis upon the overdetermination of incidental words, numbers, figures, etc. Speech is a characteristic expression of the personality and eccentric deviations can be clarified in some instances by analysis, just as are the symptomatic acts in and out of the analytic chamber.

An example of this has recently come to my attention; it is, I believe, quite representative and unusually clear. A woman near the end of her analysis repeatedly reported during her analytic hour the contents of long distance telephone conversations with her husband. Her return home was somewhat overdue and she felt quite guilty about her inability to bring the analysis to a close and return to her responsibilities, much as she consciously wished to do so. She had upon two previous occasions set dates when she hoped to finish, only in both instances to disappoint herself and those whom she had apprised of her intentions. For this reason she said she no longer told her husband just when she would come home, but "just told him it would be soon".

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