Men, Alcohol and Coping

  • Ali Haggett
Open Access
Part of the Mental Health in Historical Perspective book series


Lord Stephen Taylor of Harlow, speaking in the House of Lords in 1965, recalled that he once knew a French GP who was ‘much mystified by the English disease of the “nervous breakdown”’. The friend had observed: ‘We do not have this in France. En France c’est l’alcoholisme (In France it is alcoholism)’.1 By the mid 1960s, concerns about alcohol abuse among industrial workers emerged in a number of international studies about psychological illness, driven largely, as the previous chapter has illustrated, by concerns about sickness absence in industry. A study of Australian male telegraphists, for example, drew explicit attention to the inter-relationship between sickness absence, drinking, gastritis and peptic ulcer. Drawing a direct association between drinking and neurosis, the author argued that the subsequent ‘physical consequences of drinking to excess no doubt contributed to the liability of the drinker to be absent repeatedly’.2 As with much of the research on this topic, nonetheless, there was no clear consensus when it came to deciding whether the alcohol abuse was caused initially by the worker’s constitution, or by the pressures of any personal or professional problems he might be experiencing. Research papers from the Netherlands articulated similar difficulties. A follow-up study of male alcoholics undertaken by clinicians at a treatment centre in Groningen proposed that troubles and conflicts in the marital and family sphere were usually present in patients; however, these conflicts were ‘dependent on the pathological drinking – either being caused by it or, if present before, being intensified by it’.3


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Copyright information

© Ali Haggett 2015

Open Access This Chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ali Haggett
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ExeterUK

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