"Woe to you, my Princess...I will kiss you quite red & feed you until you are plump. & if you are froward, you shall see who is stronger, a gentle little girl who doesn't eat enough or a big wild man who has cocaine in his body. In my last severe depression I took coca again & a small dose lifted me to the heights."
This lurid encomium to cocaine wasn't penned by an immature drug addict. It was written by Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, to his fiancee Martha Bernays. He frequently got kicks from cocaine. But as is clear from his newly compiled Cocaine Papers, his interest in the drug was scientific, not sensual. He sought for a miracle drug to benefit patients & make his reputation. He thought he'd found it in cocaine.
Freud's study of cocaine has been shrouded in myths, half-truths & speculation. Cocaine Papers sets the facts straight. Annotated by his daughter Anna, it presents the complete authoritative versions of his own writings on the drug, including several pieces never before published, along with the work of other early experimenters. He's revealed as not only a driven &, ultimately, tragic seeker for a panacea, but also as one of the pioneers of psychopharmacology, the science of using drugs to treat mental illness.
In 1884, before beginning studies leading to the development of psychoanalysis, Freud was 28, a fledgling physician with a fiancee but without funds to wed. He'd been searching for a way to establish himself & gain the respect of colleagues. A paper by German physician Theodor Aschenbrandt seemed to provide the way. Conquistadores had noted the stimulant effect of coca leaves on Andean Indians. Aschenbrandt tried the drug on Bavarian soldiers & reported that it suppressed their hunger while increasing mental powers & capacity to endure strain.
Aschenbrandt's paper triggered Freud's studies. He obtained samples & tried it. It gave him an emotional lift, producing what he described as "normal euphoria." After that he used cocaine frequently with the same results. He coolly summarized his experiences in his notes: "You perceive an increase of self-control, possess more vitality & capacity for work. This result is enjoyed without any of the unpleasant aftermaths which accompany exhilaration thru alcoholic means."
Freud continued to study cocaine's effects on himself & patients. He found it not only useful in overcoming depression but effective against some purely physiological complaints. He used it to treat stomach disorders & persistent coughing. He didn't administer it indiscriminately. Tho he initially believed it wasn't habit-forming, he found its effects on patients too unpredictable to justify widespread use. Tho he & some American physicians reported initial successes in treating morphine addicts, fellow physician Adolf Albrecht Erlenmeyer warned that cocaine was itself addictive, the "3rd scourge of mankind"—after morphine & alcohol.
Freud realized Erlenmeyer was correct. His friend & patient, Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, became the 1st morphine addict in Europe to be cured by cocaine. He was also one of the 1st to become dependent on it. This development dampened Freud's interest & helped turn his attention to the psychological theories that eventually won him fame.
Freud's studies are considered basic to psychopharmacology. But they didn't lead to the discovery of its most effective clinical use. He abandoned his interest in cocaine just after he suggested that a colleague, Karl "Coca" Roller,experiment with its use in easing the pain of eye surgery. It was Koller & not Freud who invented local anesthesia.—Time (edited)