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Deutsch, F. (1943). Psychogenic Factors in Bronchial Asthma: By Thomas M. French, M.D., and Franz Alexander, M.D., et al. Psychosomatic Medicine Monographs II, Nos. 1 and 2, and IV, 1941. Part I, 92 pp., and Part II, 236 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 12:107-112.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:107-112

Psychogenic Factors in Bronchial Asthma: By Thomas M. French, M.D., and Franz Alexander, M.D., et al. Psychosomatic Medicine Monographs II, Nos. 1 and 2, and IV, 1941. Part I, 92 pp., and Part II, 236 pp.

Review by:
Felix Deutsch

These two monographs consider the problem of psychogenic factors in bronchial asthma. They are the results of a four-year study in the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute. Some impressions about the psychological significance of attacks of asthma had been presented previously by Dr. French at a symposium of the American Psychoanalytic Association in Chicago in 1938.

In an introductory chapter two allergists (B. Z. Rappaport and R. Hecht) lead the discussion from the allergists' point of view. The question of whether attacks of asthma are due to spasm of the bronchiolar musculature or to obstruction of the air passage is still undecided. While there are many similarities between experimental anaphylaxis and certain conditions found in man, they are not identical. The authors emphasize that a negative skin reaction to allergens indicates either no clinical allergy to the material, or an absence of correlation between mucous membrane and skin sensitivity. This point of view excludes the possibility that asthma may be due to emotional factors alone, because the above-mentioned factor always has to be considered. To the final sentence of the authors that '… a close collaboration of the allergist and analyst in each case studied is necessary for an evaluation of the rôle of psychogenic factors in asthma', the reviewer would add: '… and of the rôle of the allergic factors, too'.

In surveying the literature on psychogenic factors in asthma, French states that while there seems to be fairly general agreement among allergists that psychological and allergic factors may stand in a supplementary relationship to each other, everybody agrees that there is great difficulty in distinguishing sharply between allergic and psychologic factors in the etiology of asthma.

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