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Radó, S. (1933). The Psychoanalysis of Pharmacothymia (Drug Addiction). Psychoanal Q., 2:1-23.

(1933). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 2:1-23

The Psychoanalysis of Pharmacothymia (Drug Addiction)

Sándor Radó

1. The Clinical Picture

Clinical psychiatry regards the disorders known as alcoholism, morphinism, cocainism, etc.—for which, as an inclusive designation, we may provisionally use the term "drug addiction"—as somatic intoxications, and places them in the classificatory group "mental disorders of exogenous origin". From this point of view, the process of mental dilapidation presented in the clinical picture of the addiction would appear to be the mental manifestation of the injury to the brain produced by the poisons. The investigation of the addictions has imposed upon it by this theory, as its first task, the determination in detail of the cerebral effect of the noxious substance. Ultimately, its goal would be the exact correlation of the course of the mental disorder with the toxic processes in the brain. But this investigation, especially in its experimental aspects, is disturbingly complicated by the fact that the poisons in question attack not only the brain but the rest of the organism as well; therefore, injurious effects may be exerted upon the brain by changes in other organs through an impairment of the general metabolism. The problem thus includes not only the direct influence of the poison on the brain, but also its indirect influence. It is, consequently, not remarkable that the notion that the problem of addiction is a problem of somatic intoxication has borne so little fruit.

How did it happen, then, that psychiatry became so wedded to this idea? The obvious answer is that the idea was developed because infectious diseases were used as paradigms.

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