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December 1957

Modifications of Oropharyngeal Bacteria with Changes in the Psychodynamic StateA Preliminary Study

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Microbiology of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and the Psychosomatic Service of the Cincinnati General Hospital.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1957;78(6):656-664. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1957.02330420116021

Although great strides have been made during the past 75 years in understanding infectious disease, there remain a number of unanswered questions, particularly relative to pathogenesis. For example, why do potentially pathogenic bacteria remain quiescent in the host's tissues for prolonged periods of time and then suddenly proliferate and cause disease? Why is it that one rarely sees 100% infection of a group of nonimmunized, susceptible hosts exposed to the same pathogen? Many factors probably influence the interaction between host and bacteria. It is our working hypothesis that the host's psychodynamic state plays some role in this interaction. Other investigators have supported this hypothesis on the basis of psychologic observations.1,5,6,8,11-13,16

Dubos2 has pointed out:

Pathogens of all kinds... can persist in an active form in the tissues of a susceptible host, without causing detectable lesions or symptoms. These latent infections can remain symptomless for the lifetime of the