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January 1962

The Abstinent Alcoholic

Author Affiliations

Research Center for Mental Health, New York University.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1962;6(1):83-95. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1962.01710190085010

Introduction  Modern psychiatry sees alcoholism as a symptom of a complex personality disorder which expresses itself, inter alia, through excessive drinking. In the context of this article there are 2 antithetical aspects of alcoholism which are especially pertinent. The first is the adaptive function of alcohol use; the second is the nonadaptive consequences of alcohol use.(a) Zwerling1 in summarizing the "consistent thread" running through a number of contributions to the etiology of alcoholism, indicated that alcoholic beverages can "dispel (s) tension and depression, relieve(s) the sense of aloneness, place(s) an instantaneously available source of pleasure at . . . (the drinker's) . . . disposal, permit(s) the mastery and simultaneously the expression of unmanageable hostile feelings, . . . and offer . . . a virtually built-in and guaranteed array of sufferings, and punishments which serve both to appease the conscience mechanism and to feed back stress stimuli for continuing the cyclic addictive