First Advisor

Arthur C. Emlen

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work




Women -- Alcohol use -- Oregon -- Portland



Physical Description

Digitized photocopy typeset. 45 p.


Research on the female alcoholic indicates that women drink for different reasons than men. Rather than being a product of role conflict as it is in males, female alcoholism is frequently precipitated by stress, particularly marital stress. For exploratory purposes a group of women seen at a public alcoholism treatment clinic were divided into four categories: 1) Non-alcoholic wives of alcoholic men; 2) alcoholic wives of non-alcoholic men; 3) single alcoholic women; 4) alcoholic wives of alcoholic men. These groups were compared. for amount of personality disorganization, using the total number of abnormal scales on the clinical profiles of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a personality test administered at the beginning of treatment. The investigator hypothesized that the alcoholic wives of alcoholics would demonstrate the most dysfunction, due to the unstabilizing effects of the alcoholic husband and the stress of marital interaction between two disorganized personalities. In contrast, the alcoholic woman married to the non-alcoholic husband would experience less stress and consequently less personality dysfunction without the problems created by an alcoholic husband. The dysfunction of the single alcoholic women was hypothesized to fall between the two marital categories and the dysfunction of the non-alcoholic wives of alcoholic males was hypothesized to be the least among the four categories, since these wives have been shown to have essentially normal personalities which become disorganized by their husbands' alcoholic episodes.

As hypothesized, the non-alcoholic wives showed the least amounts of personality disorganization, but the alcoholic women showed an inverse relationship to the hypothesized order of dysfunction, i.e. the alcoholic women married to non-alcoholic men were most disorganized, according to numbers of abnormal MMPI scales, followed by single alcoholic women and then the alcoholic wives of alcoholic men. The differences among the alcoholic groups disappeared, though, when age was held constant, except in the group of older alcoholic women, where the inverse relationship remained.

The results of this study raise questions about the adaptive and maladaptive used of alcohol within a marriage situation and the subsequent effects on personality.


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"Sponsored by the Alcoholism Treatment and Training Center in Portland."

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