284 PSYCHOTHERAPY : SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS chap.
people do, either by sheer good luck or through the nature of their physical and mental make-up, avoid the habit altogether. He condemns it in the strongest language. ' Let there be no mistake ', he says, ' the habit is bad, and ought to be shunned. But if unfortunately it has been contracted, then it must be dealt with on sound psychological principles and not by the arousal of fear and panic. These, indeed, tend too often to fix the habit. . . . Those who have never yielded to the habit have, in the belief of the writer, much rrfore energy than they would otherwise have had. They have a large surplus of sexual energy which they can sublimate, that is, direct, into other and more profitable channels. To give way to self-abuse is like short-circuiting an electric main. The energy, sexual and mental, passes in a short circuit from the side of stimulus to the side of response, instead of passing through all other systems and enriching the growing mind.' After relieving the sense of guilt where it obviously exists, suggestion treatment has proved to be very efficacious in putting an end to the habit. When the habit is fixed analysis can lay bare any unconscious material which has given it its birth. The will can be strengthened by suggestion from the doctor, and the patient's own desire for self-discipline can be reinforced by autosuggestion.
Alcoholism, whether it begins as a means of stimulating sexual impulses, whether it is used as a means of escape from reality, or whether it is taken up for social reasons, can be cured by psychological treatment, as instanced by the following example : A man of thirty-five went to see Dr. Neustatter with ' a nose the size and colour of a small beetroot' as testimony to his habits. He was unhappily married, and had severe anxiety attacks. For five years he had drunk to obtain relief from these