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NEUROSIS AND ALCOHOL An Experimental Study
JULES H. MASSERMAN
Am J Psychiatry 1944;101:389-395.
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Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Research Associate, Otho S. A. Sprague Institute, University of Chicago

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Abstract

Sixteen cats were trained to adapt to situations of increasing complexity; first they opened a box of food, then they were taught to feed only after specific sensory stimuli, and finally they learned to manipulate a switch in various positions to actuate their own feeding signals. When alcohol was administered, these patterns disappeared in the order of decreasing complexity of integration, until only the original, primitive feeding reactions remained. After recovery, the animals were subjected to a severe motivational conflict, and developed inhibitions, phobias, loss of dominance, somatic manifestations of anxiety, and other behavioral abnormalities typical of an experimental neurosis. Alcohol partially disintegrated these complex responses, restored direct goal-behavior and thereby temporarily relieved the neurosis. Ten of the animals, after sufficient experience with this effect, continued to prefer alcohol to non-alcoholic liquids until their neuroses were relieved by various experimental procedures. The significance of these findings with regard to the psychodynamisms and therapy of alcoholic addiction in man is briefly discussed.

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