Friday, July 10, 2009


Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), physiologist, medical doctor, psychologist and father of psychoanalysis, pictured here with phallic symbol. Freud articulated the concepts of the unconscious, of infantile sexuality, of repression, and proposed a tri-partite model of the mind's structure, all as part of a radically new conceptual and therapeutic frame of reference for the understanding of human psychological development, based on a limited sample of unhappy Viennese housewives.

Eventually a frequent cocaine user, Freud started with the purchase of a gram for fatigue. After all, he reasoned, the German army used it to fight off exhaustion so maybe it would help some of his patients. First, he took a dose himself. And then another. Before long, he was tooting on a regular basis. He even sent some to friends, including his fiancee, Martha Bernays, accompanied with this note on June 2, 1884:

"I will kiss you quite red and feed you till you are plump. And if you are forward you shall see who is the stronger, a little girl who doesn't eat enough or a big strong man with cocaine in his body. In my last serious depression I took cocaine again and a small dose lifted me to the heights in a wonderful fashion. I am just now collecting the literature for a song of praise to this magical substance."

Clearly, Freud was coked out of his gourd.

John Styth Pemberton, plucky entreprenuer and dope pusher

Along came Pemberton. Back then, one could buy cocaine lozenges and pastilles, elixirs and pills. Cocaine wine, first sold in Europe under the name of Vin Mariani, was a raging success. There were many imitations. In the United States, John Styth Pemberton brought out his own version in 1881. He hit the jackpot when Atlanta banned the sale of alcohol in 1885, and he tweaked the recipe, removing the alcohol but keeping the cocaine, and sold his drink under the name Coca-Cola.

This was the true "Classic Coke." Of course, the coke was eventually removed from the Coke (in 1913) but the company has remained successful. It turned out it was even cheaper to sell colored sugar water without the cocaine!

In the spirit of psychiatry, we present a wonderful expressionistic portrait of madness by The Avalanches, entitled "Frontier Psychiatrist:"

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