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Radó, S. (1926). The Psychic Effects of Intoxicants: An Attempt to Evolve a Psycho-Analytical Theory of Morbid Cravings. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 7:396-413.

(1926). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 7:396-413

The Psychic Effects of Intoxicants: An Attempt to Evolve a Psycho-Analytical Theory of Morbid Cravings

Sándor Radó

Intoxicants are substances varying very greatly in origin and chemical peculiarities (alkaloids, substances of the alcohol-group, etc.), which, when resorted to either occasionally or habitually, have stupefying, stimulating or exhilarating effects on the mental life. Pharmacology has conducted more or less exhaustive researches in connection with the influence of these substances upon the organic functions of body and mind and gives us some information with regard to the specific effects produced by intoxicants according to the manner and the quantity in which they are employed. Nevertheless, these investigations have only a rough (statistical) validity; we are quite unable to predict with any certainty how a given individual will react to an intoxicant. Pharmacology gives this fact due consideration by postulating a 'constitutional factor'. According to Lewin every individual has his own peculiar 'toxic equation'; this, however, is composed of elements of which we know nothing and which elude the investigations of the pharmacologist.

Everyday experience shows us how great this uncertainty is, particularly in regard to the specific effects of intoxicants. A very little alcohol suffices to intoxicate some people, whereas others can drink a large quantity and yet remain sober, though experiencing the physical effects of intoxication. Indeed, the behaviour of one and the same person in this respect may completely change as time goes on, without anyone being able to say why. Similar phenomena are observed when morphia and other narcotics are administered. Accordingly, the theory of the psychiatrists is that this unknown quantity—the individual's disposition or tendency to intoxication—plays a decisive part in the etiology of morbid cravings and allied states.

Let us try to penetrate this obscure region from the psychoanalytical point of view.

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