JAMA Big Book Review, 1939

JAMA Big Book Review, 1939
From The Journal of the American Medical Association
Oct.14, 1939

The seriousness of the psychiatric and social problem represented by addiction to alcohol is generally underestimated by those not intimately familiar with the tragedies in the families of victims or the resistance addicts offer to any effective treatment.

Many psychiatrists regard addiction to alcohol as having a more pessimistic prognosis than schizophrenia. For many years the public was beguiled into believing that short courses of enforced abstinence and catharsis in "institutes" and "rest homes" would do the trick, but now that the failure of such temporising has become common knowledge, a considerable number of other forms of quack treatment have spring up.

The book under review is a curious combination of organising propaganda and religious exhortation. It is in no sense a scientific book, although it is introduced by a letter from a physician who claims to know some of the anonymous contributors who have been "cured" of addiction to alcohol and have joined together in an organisation which would save other addicts by a kind of religious conversion. The book contains instructions as to how to intrigue the alcoholic addict into acceptance of divine guidance in place of alcohol in terms strongly reminiscent of Dale Carnegie and the adherents of the Buchman ("Oxford") movement.

The one valid thing in the book is the recognition of the seriousness of addiction to alcohol. Other than this, the book has no scientific merit or interest.