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Kaufman, M.R. (1943). Diseases of the Digestive System: Edited by Sidney A. Portis. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1941. 952 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 12:583-585.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:583-585

Diseases of the Digestive System: Edited by Sidney A. Portis. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1941. 952 pp.

Review by:
M. Ralph Kaufman

This excellent book, to which fifty authors have contributed, covers the field of the digestive system in all its interrelationships.

The first chapter, by Ralph Major, deals with The History of Our Knowledge of Gastrointestinal Disease, and serves to give background to the field.

Of especial interest to psychiatrists is the chapter by Franz Alexander on Gastrointestinal Neuroses. In this discussion Alexander presents in a simple and direct manner the psychoanalytic knowledge in relation to the gastrointestinal neuroses. Under the subheading, The Disturbances of the Appetite and Eating, he discusses the psychology of the nutritional process; eating inhibitions, particularly anorexia nervosa, a concept which he widens somewhat to include reactions to eating which are not usually included in the rather circumscribed syndrome of anorexia nervosa; bulimia; and nervous vomiting. Disturbances of the Swallowing Act, Disturbances of the Digestive Functions, and Disturbances of the Eliminative Functions, including chronic diarrhoea, spastic, mucous, and ulcerative colitis, and chronic constipation, are taken up. For each of these topics, in addition to the various psychological factors that may enter into the picture, he also discusses therapy.

Some of the psychoanalytic concepts are stated rather abruptly, and it might be difficult for the gastroenterologist to accept them on the basis of the evidence presented. This, however, may not be a valid criticism, since space limitation makes it impossible to enter into a detailed discussion of the various concepts used.

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