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Schusdek, A. (1967). The Cocaine Papers: By Sigmund Freud. Vienna: Dunquin Press, 1963. 62 pp. (Distributed by Schoenhof's Foreign Books, Inc., Cambridge, Mass.). Psychoanal Q., 36:94-95.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:94-95

The Cocaine Papers: By Sigmund Freud. Vienna: Dunquin Press, 1963. 62 pp. (Distributed by Schoenhof's Foreign Books, Inc., Cambridge, Mass.)

Review by:
Alexander Schusdek

Freud's publications on cocaine, which appeared originally between 1884 and 1887, have been translated and collected in a single volume. A. K. Donoghue and James Hillman provide a foreword.

The work is of interest today for the information it contributes about the author rather than about the subject matter. The topic involves physiological and psychological aspects of functioning, which Freud attempted to synthesize during the remainder of his life. The method employed involves his characteristic combination of self-observation and observation of others.

The first paper is a review of the history and pharmacology of coca leaf and cocaine. It is written in a lively and lucid style so that one is hardly aware that it contains information from ninety references. The mood is optimistic regarding various therapeutic applications. There are some self-observations as well as a report of the management with cocaine of one case of morphine withdrawal. An addendum takes note of individual differences in reactions to cocaine. In view of the role which the need to discharge excessive excitation and to reduce anxiety played in Freud's later theories, the following explanation of the mode of action of cocaine is interesting: 'This gives the impression that the mood induced by coca in such cases is due not so much to direct stimulation as to the disappearance of elements in one's general state of well-being which cause depression. One may, perhaps, assume that the euphoria resulting from good health is also nothing more than the normal condition of a well-nourished cerebral cortex which "is not conscious" of the organs of the body to which it belongs.'

In the second paper, Freud employed Burq's dynamometer to investigate the effect of cocaine on himself. He noted two variations: 'Firstly, the figures for the motor energy of a muscle group reveal a regular fluctuation in the course of a day; secondly, the same figures reach quite different absolute values on different days'. This reveals an interest in periodic processes before his encounter with Fliess and represents an early investigation of a circadian cycle.


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