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Smith, S. (1982). Prologue. Psychoanal. Inq., 2(4):503-505.

(1982). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 2(4):503-505


Sydney Smith, Ph.D.

Toward the temporary staying of the malignancy of the self-destructive impulse, toward the averting of the premature capitulation to Death, we may sometimes, by prodigious labors, lend an effective hand.

Karl Menninger, Man Against Himself

Nearly 5,000 years ago one of the emperors of China developed a smoking mixture from the plant Cannabis. Today on any school playground or in any city park one can find young people using essentially the same drug. Over this long span of human history people in many cultures have sought to alter the nature of ordinary mental functioning with a variety of chemical compounds and derivatives. Indeed, drug-taking is a commonplace in our own culture today, and while many people are alarmed by its growing cultural acceptance, some dismiss it as a benign form of pleasure-seeking or point out that, with 5,000 years of drug use, the cause of drug control is a hopeless one.

But for those of us in the mental health field who as a part of our everyday clinical practice see the drug-dazed and numbed adolescent without ambition or mental acuity, whose grades have plummeted and whose family is frantic or alienated, the extent of the damage we can lay at the door of that Chinese emperor is no small matter.

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