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Calef, V. (1967). Alcoholism and Ornithophobia in Women. Psychoanal Q., 36:584-587.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:584-587

Alcoholism and Ornithophobia in Women

Victor Calef, M.D.


An attempt is made to describe what may be considered a psychiatric syndrome in women who have a severe masturbatory conflict accompanied by intense subjective fears of insanity which seem genetically rooted in feelings of disappointment with and abandonment by the mother. Such women are moody, depressed, intelligent, and they hide their ambitions and their intellectual potential out of a fear of controversy, conflict, and competition. The specific clinical form in which their conflicts become manifest is the fear of birds associated with alcoholism as an attempted regressive solution which seeks an external agency to do the work of repression.

The report of a dream by one patient represented the beginning of analytic work with her. It led to an interesting correlation between the drinking and the bird phobia of this patient as well as others, a correlation which could not have been suggested without metapsychological theory which differentiates the regressive products of illness from fixations. The bird phobia is certainly a product of the return of the repressed, and is in itself regressive—a psychoneurotic symptom. Nevertheless it has elements of fixation from early periods of development. The alcoholism is a regressive solution, a symptom which takes its psychological characteristics by a turning to the oldest fixation points from which the phobia of birds was built.

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