Arne Tallberg 1902–1985

Physician who established an out-patient alcohol treatment model for the non-aversive use of apomorphine.

Tallberg's Biography


Arne Tallberg

Arne Tallberg was an indefatigable spreader of the word; not only did he raise awareness in the Scandinavian world of apomorphine, but he documented the human day-to-day realities of working with addicted patients. His flexible approach, integrating both conventional and apomorphine treatment, presented an undogmatic and undramatic view of how such treatment could be incorporated into existing models of addiction therapy. Towards the end of his life he recorded a significant observation: alcoholic patients who smoked cigarettes stopped smoking following apomorphine treatment, suggesting that apomorphine might also be effective for nicotine addiction.

Tallberg was born in Stockholm in 1902. He started his medical career as a ship’s doctor in the Swedish Navy. He then became a medical officer for a collection of commercial shipping companies before taking on hospital postings in Northern Sweden. New responsibilities included looking after mental patients triggering, a life-long interest in psychiatry, and from the 1950s he was routinely treating alcoholics.[1]

In addition to being in demand as a doctor Tallberg was a prolific writer. His books, mostly medical, were published from the late 1920s.

Illustration from ‘Travel Without a Goal’ by Arne Tallberg, 1928.

In 1941 Tallberg married Ingrid Thorin. They had four children in quick succession, prompting their move from central Stockholm to Tyresö a small town 10 klm south east of the city.

From the 1950s Tallberg contributed regularly on medical matters to newspapers and respected periodicals. He was keen to equip readers with the knowledge to help themselves, and his articles made medical information more understandable.[2]

Tallberg’s writing widened his circle of influence and brought him into contact with many published authors, artists and movers and shakers operating in the cultural milieu of Stockholm. A number were alcoholics. The Tallbergs were able to help by welcoming them into their home and were circumspect and private about the treatment and support provided.[3]

Dust jacket for ‘We Discover Man’ by Arne Tallberg, 1957

In the 1950s Tallberg was introduced to the Danish doctor Oluf Martensen Larsen who was well known amongst the Swedish psychiatric community for developing the Antabuse treatment.[4] They became life-long friends and regular correspondents and throughout the 1960s Tallberg keenly follow Martensen Larsen’s investigations into apomorphine.

Tallberg was well connected and in 1969, with support from local politicians and senior members of the clergy, helped establish a publicly funded alcohol treatment clinic in Tyresö. Despite being 67 and retired, Tallberg was persuaded to take over the management of the clinic a year later in 1970.[5] Encouraged by Martensen Larsen’s success with apomorphine he introduced it to the clinic, finding it an effective treatment option.

Throughout the 1970s Tallberg supported Martensen Larson’s endeavours to improve both the method of giving apomorphine and its availability. In 1974 the British addiction doctor, Brian Hore, invited Tallberg to give a paper at a conference in Manchester describing his treatment regime at the Tyresö Clinic.[6.7] In this paper Tallberg was the first medical practitioner to record apomorphine’s effectiveness for reducing nicotine craving. His detailed account of his patient centred approach would be included in a published collection of papers on apomorphine by Hamburg doctor Hanswhillhem Beil in 1976.[8]

Arne Tallberg’s success with patients was enhanced by a small team of assistants including his wife, Ingrid, who helped manage the day to day running of the Tyresö Clinic. He was originally contracted to work 10 hours per week, increasing to 18 hours a week.[9] Because of his commitment to his patients’ welfare, and for no extra payment, he worked at least 12 hours a day.[10]

Throughout his eight year association with the clinic Tallberg chose not to publicise his methods in the press, preferring to protect the anonymity of his patients. The death of Ingrid in 1978 prompted Tallberg’s retirement from the clinic. His replacement phased out the use of apomorphine in favour of Antabuse.[11]

Tallberg died of cancer in 1985 aged 83.[4]


  1. Email 17.05.13 Mats Tallberg to Antonia Rubinstein.

  2. ibid.

  3. ibid.

  4. ibid.

  5. ibid.

  6. Telephone conversation, Dr Brian Hore with Antonia Rubinstein, 19.04.17.

  7. Work and Results in a Minor Alcohol Clinic Outside Stockholm, 20th International Institute on the Prevention and Treatment of Alcoholism, Arne Tallberg, Manchester, England, 1974.

  8. The Treatment of Multiple Drug Dependence And Alcoholism with Apomorphine, Hanswilhelm Beil, Hamburg, 1976.

  9. ibid (5).

  10. Email 10.06.13.

  11. Email 22.05.13.