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Article
May 1965

Abstinence Versus Permissiveness in the Psychotherapy of Alcoholism: A Pilot Study and Review of Some Relevant Literature

Author Affiliations

BROOKLINE, MASS
Formerly Psychiatric Consultant, Washingtonian Hospital, Boston. Presently Career-Teacher in Child Psychiatry and Instructor in Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1965;12(5):456-463. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1965.01720350024004
Abstract

I. Introduction

THIS STUDY is the result of persistent differences of opinion among the psychiatric staff of the Washingtonian Hospital regarding the psychotherapist's attitude towards drinking during the course of therapy. Is total abstinence necessary for successful therapy, or can patients drink and still show improvement? This difference of opinion is long-standing in the alcoholism literature. A recent example is seen in two papers in the same issue of the Quarterly Journal for Studies on Alcohol by D. L. Davies3 and R. L. Moore,13 and in the ensuing discussion among alcoholism experts in subsequent issues of that journal. Stated simply, the so-called permissive approach holds that alcoholism should be treated as a character neurosis; the therapist does not take a stand for or against the patient's drinking, but rather attempts to understand its symptomatic meaning. According to this view, as treatment progresses and

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