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October 6, 1945

PSYCHIATRIC ORIENTATION OF THE ALCOHOLIC CRIMINAL

JAMA. 1945;129(6):421-424. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860400005003

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Abstract

Does alcohol inhibit or release aggressive drives and damaging activities against society that result in criminotic behavior? This problem has been studied and discussed intensively by many investigators, but the evidence to date is insufficient for the conclusions to be clearcut or definitive. In general it has been our experience that criminal offenses against society are committed by individuals with poorly integrated personalities, emotional instability, conflicts with the environment and frustration; these are also found in many alcoholic addicts whose drinking is symptomatic of their inability to adjust themselves realistically to the environment and its demands on them.

One factor is clear, however; alcohol, pharmacologically, acts as a depressant on the nervous system resulting in relaxation (to varying degrees and extents) of judgment and control so that underlying forces—the personality dynamics—find a more direct mode of expression. While such underlying forces may be of a passive, laissez-faire nature as well

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