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Alcoholism : a study of certain characteristics of environment and personality Fry, Howard Calvin

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate by means of psychometric methods, certain characteristics of environment and personality as found in alcoholic subjects. The study attempted to determine whether or not an alcoholic personality pattern existed, a pattern to which all alcoholics would conform. Four measuring instruments were selected for use. They were the Manson Evaluation, a modification of the Chassell Experience Variables Record, a questionnaire and rating scale, and the Alcadd Test. The subjects consisted of two groups of individuals matched, as well as possible, for age, years of education, occupational level, and marital status. The first group was made up of 69 male alcoholics obtained from Alcoholics Anonymous circles and from the Provincial Mental Hospital, Essondale, B. C. The second group was composed of 67 male nonalcoholics living in the Vancouver area. The alcoholics ranged in age from 22 to 61 years, the mean age of the group being 41.6 years. The nonalcoholics ranged in age from 22 to 62 years, with-a mean age of 37.8 years. All subjects had reached at least the grade four level of schooling. The nonalcoholic group belonged to a slightly higher occupational level than did the alcoholic group. No psychologically or physiologically deteriorated subjects were included for study, and all subjects were voluntary participants. The responses of the alcoholic group to questions in the test battery were compared with those made by the nonalcoholic group. Test items were assigned weighted values, and the means, sigmas, and standard errors of the means were calculated for both groups. The standard errors of the differences between the means were computed and critical ratios determined. Test items having critical ratios equal to 3.0 or greater were considered to represent significant differences between the alcoholic and nonalcoholic groups. As a result of the statistical treatment of the data a series of conclusions were reached. These conclusions are as follows: 1. Differences exist between the alcoholics and nonalcoholics in the childhood and adolescent environment: The alcoholics revealed a greater number of behavior difficulties in infancy, and their general health tended to be poorer. They were more resentful of parental discipline, but reported their mothers to be more attentive and solicitous. . The mothers of alcoholics rarely used alcohol, whereas nonalcoholics' mothers did more frequently. The alcoholics' fathers tended to have poorer emotional control, and demanded greater obedience. The alcoholics reported being more afraid of their fathers, and confided in them less. The alcoholics' fathers tended to use alcohol in greater amounts than did the fathers of the nonalcoholics. The alcoholics reported that they were less popular in the home and tended to avoid family life activity. 2. Differences exist between the alcoholics and nonalcoholics in the adult environment: (a) Vocational adjustment was found to be poorer for the alcoholics. They reported less satisfaction with their jobs, and their economic situation tended to be more precarious than the nonalcoholics. The alcoholics exhibited a marked lack of drive and incentive towards a goal. Goals were expressed in vague and hazy- terms. The alcoholics showed much greater occupational mobility. The type of occupation sought was such as to avoid responsibilities, and one that lacked routine work. (b) Marital adjustment was found to be much poorer for the alcoholic group. They reported a greater frequency of love affairs than did the nonalcoholics, and had a greater number of crushes on persons of the same sex. Twenty-two per cent of the alcoholic group were found to be separated and 17 per cent divorced, whereas no nonalcoholic was divorced or separated. Those alcoholics who were married gave more evidence of not getting along well with their wives. The wives of alcoholics opposed the use of alcohol more strongly than did the wives of nonalcoholics. The alcoholics reported their wives to have poorer emotional control. The alcoholics indicated that they were more jealous of their wives than were the nonalcoholics. (c) Emotional adjustment was much poorer for the alcoholics than for the nonalcoholics. Extremely strong feelings of anxiety, resentfulness, insecurity, and emotional sensitivity were shown by the alcoholics. Feelings of being alone in the world and estranged from others were also present. Interpersonal relationships for the alcoholic group were markedly poorer. The alcoholics expressed much stronger feelings of sin and guilt, and felt remorseful about their failures in life. The strong feeling of resentfulness was the predominant characteristic, with depressive fluctuations second. (d) Social adjustment was typified by the alcoholics engaged in much more active pursuit of recreation than the nonalcoholics. This recreation, however, was found to be expressed in hazy and ill-defined terms and generally not of a satisfying nature such as hobbies, sports, and so forth. The alcoholics reported a much greater absence of group affiliations (other than Alcoholics Anonymous) than did the nonalcoholics. The alcoholics felt that they accepted criticism easier and were more suggestible and self conscious than the nonalcoholics. These specific conclusions led to the following general conclusions: 1. The alcoholics showed greater maladjustment than the nonalcoholics in the vocational, marital, emotional and social spheres. 2. The alcoholic group does not appear homogeneous with reference to any of the characteristics measured. 3. The findings are applicable only to those alcoholics who participated in the study.

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