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Nadelman, M.S. (1990). Centennial of an Overlooked Freud Paper on Psychosomatics. Psychoanal Q., 59:444-450.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:444-450

Centennial of an Overlooked Freud Paper on Psychosomatics

Maurice S. Nadelman, M.D.

In 1890 Freud wrote a paper, titled "Psychical (or Mental) Treatment," which was included, along with the work of other contributors, in a collective work on medicine. He specified psychical treatment as one which starts in the mind and treats mental or physical disorders "by measures which operate in the first instance and immediately upon the human mind" (Freud, 1890/1905p. 283). It is a treatment in which the use of words is the essential tool. He noted that the relation between the body and the mind is a reciprocal one, although until shortly before the time of the paper, the effect of the mind on the body had received less attention. He observed that this lack of attention seemed to have been caused by the physicians' fear of abandoning a proper scientific ground. This attitude, however, had begun to change with the increasing number of patients who suffered from various kinds of physical and bodily complaints, but in whom no physical etiology could be discerned clinically or at postmortem.

Freud stressed that the symptoms of a large number of these people could be very much influenced by psychological factors (e.g., excitement, sorrow, worry). Symptoms may change so that other systems are affected; and symptoms can worsen or even disappear.

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