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June 18, 1982


Author Affiliations

Veterans Administration Medical Center Decatur, Ga Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta

JAMA. 1982;247(23):3193. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320480017016

Everybody knows that alcoholics minimize how much and how often they drink. They may deny that they drink at all. Why, even in the face of cirrhosis of the liver, esophageal varices, ascites, and innumerable spider angiomas they may admit to only a "coupla' beers" a day. Denial is such a part of alcoholism that it is well known you often have to question the alcoholic's family to get the "true story." Armed with the "true story" and a knowing smile, the persistent physician proclaims, "I told you that guy drinks like a fish!"

A 63-year-old Baptist minister was admitted to the hospital for anorexia and hepatomegaly. He had received the "call" to preach late in life and resisted as long as he could. Finally, he gave up a lucrative position as a company executive and started his own church. It was hard going, but after several years his congregation