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Simmel, E. (1948). Alcoholism and Addiction. Psychoanal Q., 17:6-31.

(1948). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 17:6-31

Alcoholism and Addiction

Ernst Simmel, M.D.

We may expect as an aftermath of World War II the same psychological sequelæ which followed World War I. After the first World War there was noted an enormous increase in character disorders, particularly in addictions. Postwar mental disorders document the failure of the 'war ego' to reconvert into a 'peace ego' because of a shattering of ego and superego relationships. In war superego functions are disrupted, ego regressions enforced, and barriers of repression thus removed. If no neurotic or psychotic mechanisms are evoked as defenses, criminality results as the direct continuation of the war ego in civilian life.

During the war, working and fighting for victory was the common goal for civilians and soldiers alike, serving as a collective ego ideal, counteracting the blunting of the individual superego. Postwar disillusionment with the ideal of victory robs it of its significance and effectiveness as a stabilizing factor within individual psychological systems, thus depriving the individual egos of the supporting superstructure of a community spirit. The unified nation again disintegrates into dissenting groups with disparate aims of self-interest. The cessation of groups with disparate aims of self-interest. The cessation of armed conflict is a narcissistic trauma for all; deprived of the protective participation in an inspiriting brotherhood of man, no longer able to identify himself with the nation as a whole, the disenchanted citizen finds that the bitter fruit of victory is a return to individual, social, and economic insecurity.

The less the individual ego is capable of reconstructing itself by a withdrawal of aggressive energies (increasingly precipitated by frustration), the greater the need that the nation as an entity undergo a process of structuralization.

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