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Siomopoulos, V. (1969). On Form and Similarity in Mental Functioning. Psychoanal. Rev., 56C(3):415-424.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Review, 56C(3):415-424

On Form and Similarity in Mental Functioning

V. Siomopoulos, M.D.

In the realm of the physical objects the term “form” describes a dimensional arrangement of the matter. In a different frame of reference the term “form” refers to the manner in which the subjective experiences are objectivized through speech, language, art, etc. This paper assumes that the experiences themselves, cognitive as well as affective, are also forms. The interest in the form-the form of thinking especially-is a relatively new trend in psychological and psychiatric research. We will here discuss briefly theories and clinical examples where similarity of cognitive forms is involved in one or another way. We will further advance the hypothesis that similarity of affective forms plays an equally crucial role in normality as well as psychopathology.


An image, however vague and indefinite, is always similar to a perceptual impression. Yet, similarity implies form and formal characteristics. In talking about similar objects we mean similar forms-perceptual or image forms. In talking about similar relationships, functions, contents we are referring again to similar forms: of function, relationship, content. This reduction is seemingly self-contradictory. How can we call form what we have already called content or function-notions antithetical to that of form?

We shall limit the argument to the opposition of form and content. The term “form” generally refers to the question how the phenomena are expressed and experienced.

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