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June 1959


AMA Arch Intern Med. 1959;103(6):1004-1005. doi:10.1001/archinte.1959.00270060156025

Lieut. Col. Gregory Boyington of the U. S. Marine Corps shot down twenty-six Japanese planes in World War II. He was dauntless in action and subsequently in prison camp, won the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross, and was an alcoholic. He now no longer drinks. Readers of his recent autobiography, "Baa Baa Black Sheep," may deduce that a man may be an alcoholic and yet be skilled, fearless, and resolute. Not all alcoholics are failures, who cower from the cold gray world. What explains our attitude toward alcoholics? Some physicians think that the prognosis is hopeless. This is not so; thirty to fifty percent of patients cease drinking. Perhaps the core of our disregard is the idea that drinkers rarely want to be treated. Most patients want us to help. This makes us feel better or more important, emotions not to be discounted except in public. The excellent

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