Family Research and Alcoholism

  • Joan Ablon


Few anthropological studies on alcoholism and family life exist. This chapter argues for a flexible definition of the contemporary “family” and briefly reviews the orientations in the alcoholism and family literature, noting that the family systems approach currently utilized by clinicians is congenial with basic anthropological approaches and methodologies, such as the tenet of holism, the conceptual “structural functional” approach, and naturalistic field methods classic to anthropological research. The significance of home observation is emphasized. A review of anthropologically oriented studies in the literature by sociologists, psychiatrists, and anthropologists is presented. Contemporary anthropological studies are described, and promising directions for new research that fall within the traditional purview and interests of anthropologists are pointed up.


Family Life Family System Drinking Pattern Excessive Drinking Holistic Perspective 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    US Bureau of the Census, US Department of Commerce: Household and family characteristics: March 1979. Current Population Reports. Population Characteristics. Series P-20, No. 352, issued July 1980.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Steinglass P, Weiner S, Mendelson JH: A systems approach to alcoholism: A model and its clinical application. Arch Gen Psychiatry 24(5):401–408 1971.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gans H: Urban Villagers. New York, Free Press, 1962.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Lewis O: La Vida. New York, Random House, 1965.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Howell JT: Hard Living on Clay Street. New York, Doubleday, 1973.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Stack CB: All Our Kin: Strategies for Survival in a Black Community. New York, Harper and Row, 1974.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Henry J: Pathways to Madness. New York, Random House, 1965.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Edgerton R: The Cloak of Competence. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1967.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ablon J: Family structure and behavior in alcoholism: A review of the literature, in Kissin SB, Begleiter H (eds): The Biology of Alcoholism, vol 4. New York, Plenum Press, 1976, pp 205–242.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Paolino TJ Jr, McCrady BS: Alcoholic Marriage: Alternative Perspectives. New York, Grune & Stratton, 1977.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Jackson JK: The adjustment of the family to the crisis of alcoholism. Q J Stud Alcohol 15(4):562–586, 1954.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Jackson JK: Alcoholism and the family. Ann Am Acad Polit Soc Sci 315:90–98, 1958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Jackson JK: Alcoholism and the family, in Pittman J, Snyder CR (eds): Society, Culture, and Drinking Patterns. New York, Wiley, 1962, pp 472–492.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ward RF, Faillace GA: The alcoholic and his helpers. Q J Stud Alcohol 31(3):684–691, 1970.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Steinglass P, Weiner S, Mendelson JH: Interactional issues as determinants of alcoholism. Am J Psychiatry 128(3):275–280, 1971.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bowen M: Alcoholism as viewed through family systems theory and family psychotherapy. Ann NY Acad Sci 233:115–122, 1974.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Davis I, Berenson D, Steinglass P, Davis S: The adaptive consequences of drinking. Psychiatry 37:209–215, 1974.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Wolin S, Steinglass P, Sendroff P, Davis DI, Berenson D: Marital interaction during experimental intoxication and the relationship to family history, in Gross M (ed): Experimental Studies of Alcohol Intoxication and Withdrawal. New York, Plenum Press, 1975, pp 645–653.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Steinglass P: Family therapy in alcoholism, in Kissin SB, Begleiter H (eds): The Biology of Alcoholism, vol 5. New York, Plenum Press, 1977, pp 259–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Steinglass P: A life history model of the alcoholic family. Tarn Process 19:211–226, 1980.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Steinglass P: Experimenting with family treatment approaches to alcoholism, 1950–1975: A review. Fam Process 16:97–123, 1976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Radcliffe-Brown AR: Structure and Function in Primitive Society. New York, Free Press, 1965.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    O’Rourke, JA: Field and laboratory: The decision-making behavior of family groups in two experimental conditions. Sociometry 26:422–435, 1963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Henry J: My life with the families of psychotic children, in Handel G (ed): The Psychosocial Interior of the Family. Chicago, Aldine, 1967, pp 30–46.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ablon J, Ames G, Cunningham W: To all appearances: An ideal American family, in Kaufman E (ed): The Power to Change: Case Studies in Alcoholism. New York, Gardner Press (in press).Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ames G, Ablon J: Naturalistic studies of alcoholic family life: Practical issues of entree, rapport, reciprocity and ethics. Presented at the Forty-first Annual Meeting, Society for Applied Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, 1981.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Steinglass P: Home observation assessment method (HOAM): Real-time naturalistic observation of families in their homes. Fam Process 18:337–354, 1979.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Lemert EM: The occurrence and sequence of events in adjustments of families to alcoholism. Q J Stud Alcohol 21(4):679–697, 1960.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Steinglass P: The alcoholic family at home. Arch Gen Psychiatry 38(5):578–584, 1981.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Steinglass P: Assessing families in their own homes. Am J Psychiatry 137(12):1523–1529, 1980.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ablon J: The significance of cultural patterning for the “alcoholic family.”Fam Process 19:127–144, 1980.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ablon J: Al-Anon Family Groups: Impetus for learning and change through the presentation of alternatives. Am J Psychother 28(l):30–45, 1974.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ablon J: Perspectives on Al-Anon Family Groups, in Estes NJ, Heinemann ME (eds): Alcoholism: Development, Consequences, and Interventions, 2nd ed, St. Louis, CV Mosby, 1982, pp 319–328.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Ames G: Maternal alcoholism and family life: A cultural model for research and intervention. Unpublished PhD dissertation, San Francisco, University of California, 1982.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Bennett LA, Wolin SJ, Noonan DL: Family identity and intergenerational recurrence of alcoholism. Alcoholism: J Alcoholism Related Addict (Zagreb) 13:100–108, 1977.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Wolin SJ, Bennett LA, Noonan DL, Teitelbaum MA: Disrupted family rituals: A factor in the intergenerational transmission of alcoholism. J Stud Alcohol 41(3): 199–214, 1980.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Wolin SJ, Bennett LA: Heritage continuity among the children of alcoholics, in Gottheil E, Druley KA, Skoloda TE, Waxman HM (eds): Etiologic Aspects of Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Springfield, Ill., Charles C. Thomas, 1983, pp. 271–284.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Wolin SJ, Bennett LA: The children of alcoholic parents: Recent findings. Presented at the 1983 Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, May 1983.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Ablon J: Stigmatized health conditions. Soc Sci Med 15B:5–9, 1981.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan Ablon
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical Anthropology Program, Departments of Epidemiology and International Health and PsychiatryUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations