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June 1965

Autonomic Dysfunction In Neurotic Behavior

Author Affiliations

Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1965;12(6):572-585. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1965.01720360044008

BASED UPON the results of a recently published study,14 I concluded that an essential parameter of neurotic behavior was an inadequate autonomic homeostatic mechanism for drive reduction following the cessation of aversive stimulation. The reactivity of the autonomic nervous system was determined by employing measurements of pupillary dilatation and constriction as indices of adrenergic and cholinergic outflow. The results of the experiments indicated that both normals and neurotics manifested the same patterns of adrenergic and cholinergic activity when they were relaxed and at rest. Similarly, no significant difference between these groups with respect to these systems was observed when internal emotional responses were elicited by exposure to the painful, noxious stimulation afforded by the cold pressor test. The characteristic response of these systems to stress in both groups was functionally adaptive. To attain maximal sympathetic autonomic outflow, there was