Scratching the Head.
The gesture of scratching the head is taken to mean that the person
is puzzled, has encountered an obstacle in reality or in his thinking
about a problem.
The head is perhaps seen as the place where the thoughts are.
This is primitive thinking because
a) there are really no such things as thoughts, only thinking processes.
Using the language category of nouns, abstract nouns is only a convention,
not a reality, see the ideas of Woodworth and Schlosberg.
b) so they are not anywhere, and so specifically not in the head,
although the organic physical substrate of the process of thinking is
in the head, in the cerebrum.
When one encounters an obstacle in thinking, in carrying out or forming a
plan, one might also frown
The usual reason for scratching some part of the body is that there is an
itch, in that body part. The itch is an irritation, a discomfort.
The scratching relieves the discomfort because-----
Compare this with the behaviour of CW when she seems to have had a pain in
her head or ear. She reacted by hitting the offending body part quite
violently with her hand, often causing severe bruising. The body part
attacks her, causing her pain, she becomes angry and retaliates by hitting
This was apparently the basis in her primitive thinking.
Realistically the slapping or punching would cause tissue damage and
adrenaline release, followed by endorphine release, the body's natural
opiate. This would make her feel better and so the self-abusing behaviour
would be reinforced.
Perhaps CW's pain was deep in 'location', (in Thai 'puat'), and so required
rather aggressive 'treatment'. In contrast an itch seems to be a rather
superficial skin sensation and so requires a surface 'treatment', e.g.
scratching, using the nails or similar.