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Prince, W.F. (1969). Two Cures of “Paranoia” By Experimental Appeals to Purported Obsessing Spirits. Psychoanal. Rev., 56A(1):57-86.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Review, 56A(1):57-86

Two Cures of “Paranoia” By Experimental Appeals to Purported Obsessing Spirits

Walter Franklin Prince, Ph.D.

1. The Case Of Mrs. Latimer

It was one of the first days of May, 1922, when a lady whom I had never seen before, opened the door of my office in the headquarters of the American Society for Psychical Research in New York City. Her attire instantly apprised me of the fact that she was a woman of means and of fastidious taste. Her very walk and general bearing announced refinement. She proved to be a lady of culture and social standing. We will call her Mrs. Phyllis Latimer, and her home New Rochelle. After the customary introductory sentences between us she seated herself, fixed her gaze calmly upon me and asked in low, even tones, “Do you believe in obsession?”

I explained that I did not believe in obsession, nor could properly be said to disbelieve in it; that it was one of the subjects embraced in psychical research and therefore I was bound to be openminded toward it; that there were phenomena which at least superficially seemed to favor a theory that obsession was involved, but that I did not feel warranted as yet to make up my mind that anything more than perturbations within the region of the subconscious were responsible for them. I then indicated my desire to know why she asked the question.

“Because I believe that I am obsessed,” was her reply. It was, unfortunately, impossible for me to listen to her story at this time. But I appointed May 5th, on which she came and related, further details being added on later occasions, the story which I proceed to summarize.

It seems that there had been a male cousin who during a part of his boyhood was almost a foster brother, and who in his manhood was a frequent and welcome visitor in her home. He died somewhat more than two years before the date of the interview in my office.

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