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February 20, 1892

SOME NEW STUDIES OF THE OPIUM DISEASE.Read before the Philadelphia County Medical Society, January 27, 1892.

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1892;XVIII(8):227-233. doi:10.1001/jama.1892.02411120015001b

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As a preface, I wish to express my emphatic dissent against the common use of the word habit, in describing the opium disease. The popular meaning conveyed by this term is some state or condition voluntarily acquired and retained, with the certainty of being thrown off at any time at the will of the patient. This view assumes a knowledge of the physiology and psychology of the brain and its functions that is not yet attained. Hence the use of the word is incorrect, wrong, and contradicted by the facts in the clinical history of each case. It also conveys a false impression of the nature and origin of such cases, and is a word to which different meanings will always be given. No other word is more misleading and confusing, when applied to opium, alcohol, and other border-land neuroses.

Beyond all question, the toxic use of opium and its

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