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Dodes, L.M. (2004). On: What can we learn from psychoanalysis and prospective studies about chemically dependent patients?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(6):1507-1508.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(6):1507-1508

On: What can we learn from psychoanalysis and prospective studies about chemically dependent patients? Related Papers

Lance M. Dodes

Dear Sirs,

Sergio de Paula Ramos (2004) presents a view of addiction that is inaccurate. In attempting to formulate a psychodynamic basis founded on the pathology of the father, he overlooks a fact that he notes himself: that no single psychodynamic formulation could possibly apply to such a heterogeneous group. Indeed, people with addictions have a very wide range of psychological issues and structures ranging from quite primitive to quite healthy. Further, it is not enough to say, as de Paula Ramos does, that descriptors such as ‘narcissists … those with oral-sadistic issues, latent homosexuality and other perversions’ (I also disagree with categorizing homosexuality as a perversion) are also present in people without addictions, or not present in all people with addictions. What needs to be emphasized is that these traits—being neither necessary nor sufficient—are irrelevant to the nature of addiction. The psychology of addictive behavior, in fact, can be shown to be identical to that of most compulsive behavior (Dodes, 1996); no one would claim such broad generalizations of people with compulsive symptomatology.

Describing addictions as somehow fundamentally different from other forms of symptomatology, such as compulsions, is an old error in both our literature and social thinking; however, the literature about addiction of the past 30 years has generally eschewed the kind of overgeneralization and over-pathologizing of de Paula Ramos's paper, favoring more nuanced examination of addictive behavior as an ego function.

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