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Robbins, B.S. (1935). A Note on the Significance of Infantile Nutritional Disturbances in the Development of Alcoholism. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(1):53-59.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Review, 22(1):53-59

A Note on the Significance of Infantile Nutritional Disturbances in the Development of Alcoholism

Bernard S. Robbins, M.D.

This is merely a preliminary study to a more comprehensive survey on alcoholism that the author hopes to present at some time in the future. Although considerable advance in the elucidation of this complex psychopathy has been made, there is still so much that remains obscure relative to its dynamic development that a brief note, specific in character and illustrative of only a single developmental phase, might not be beside the point in throwing some light upon the more general problem.

The relationship existent between general nutritional difficulties and alcoholic addiction has not been unobserved either by the general medical or lay world. Digestive disturbances, loss of appetite, indispositions in food intake as well as violent ejections are widely known companions of the alcoholic spree. The difficulties inherent in securing actual early experiential data from these people, recognized by those who have had the opportunity of teating them psychoana-lytically, have made it necessary in the past to draw more freely from comparative sources explanations as to this tie-up than is usually thought wise in most cases. Frequently, too, other features in the personality giving rise to stress, so overshadow these disturbances that comparatively little attention is devoted to them and their possible importance in the total picture of the individual. In the case to be reported, perhaps fortuitously as far as research is concerned, the patient was so nearly psychotic that a pattern almost diagrammatic in its purity could readily be traced demonstrating beyond question the significance of early nutritional disturbances in the later development of his alcoholism. It is important to note in this connection a factor which might account for the recovery of material not usually available. This patient initiated treatment not for his more obvious disability—alcoholism—but for personality changes, feelings of unreality, etc., that he had previously been able to control through the excessive consumption of liquor.

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