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Clark, L.P. (1919). A Psychological Study of some Alcoholics. Psychoanal. Rev., 6(3):268-295.

(1919). Psychoanalytic Review, 6(3):268-295

A Psychological Study of some Alcoholics

L. Pierce Clark, M.D.

I trust those who at first may think I am but “carrying coals to Newcastle” in presenting a paper upon alcoholism at this late date, will reconsider some of the modern psychologic aspect of the problem and thus realize that alcohol and its influence upon modem life is not to be disposed of so easily as closing the metaphorical mines at Newcastle, or by merely preventing people from “carrying coals.” In the various excessive and habitual indulgences in alcohol we have a multitude of causes and results for study and analysis. At one time alcohol may serve as a paralyzant to the repressing forces of social customs and make an otherwise difficult social grouping free and natural. At another, it may furnish an extended pleasure wand to reach a goal or state of rapport not tangible to the foreshortened grasp of an individual who lacks the capacity to create a proper degree of self-produced pleasure; while at another time it may make easy for free egress the deeper and illy adjusted unconscious motives. Alcohol therefore is, perhaps, dangerous only to those who use it for illegitimate ends. In many instances these alcoholic individuals have failed to complete certain emotional cycles of earlier development wherein alcohol prevents proper and satisfactory repression or socially acceptable sublimations.

May not the ardency of the prohibitionist be a compensatory public inhibition for more intimate personal liberties denied or repressed? Is he not, then, a sort of public asceticist? It is often popularly held that a man totally abstinent in one field may be licentate in another. No doubt extreme alcoholic repression calls for its precise study and analysis no less insistent though less socially and medically useful.

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