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Gottschalk, L.A. (1974). The Psychoanalytic Study of Hand-Mouth Approximations. Psychoanal. Contemp. Sci., 3(1):269-291.

(1974). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Science, 3(1):269-291

The Psychoanalytic Study of Hand-Mouth Approximations

Louis A. Gottschalk, M.D.

The Opportunity to Study the relationship between the content of free association and a repeated physical gesture was provided by the psychoanalysis of a 40-year-old married psychologist. During his treatment this patient not infrequently moved one hand from alongside his body toward his mouth and then fingered his lips, oral cavity, nose, or cheek, or rubbed his closed eyes with his fingers or fist. It was decided to investigate the relationship of the content of his free associations and these various hand-face approximations.

The content of verbal material during psychoanalysis and its correlation with various behaviors or manifestations of the involuntary nervous system have long been of interest to analysts. Ferenczi (1912) wrote of the relationship of associative content to a variety of transient symptoms during the psychoanalytic session. I have reported psychoanalytic observations on the recurring epileptic manifestations of an eight-year-old boy (Gottschalk, 1956) and on the psychophysiological relationship between the content of free associations and paroxysmal electroencephalographic activity in a 24-year-old soldier subject to grand mal seizures (Gottschalk, 1955), and my findings have been reconfirmed by a more rigorous analysis of the data (Luborsky et al., 1970, 1974). Luborsky (1964, 1967, 1970) has examined the content of speech accompanying symptomatic behavior in psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic interviews and compared it with the speech of control interviews.

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