Gender differences in dependency among alcoholics

Carr, Spencer
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Research has established that biological, sociological and psychological factors are involved in the presentation of alcoholism.Within the psychological domain, research has consistently found that a relatively small number of trait-clusters represent the personality profiles of a significant proportion of alcoholics. Dependency has consistently emerged as a prominent feature in a number of these profiles. Research into the relationship between dependency and alcoholism is limited. The majority of significant studies on the relationship between alcoholism and personality have failed to investigate the nature or extent of gender differences. Gender differences are influenced by social forces, including the social construction of gender. The social construction of gender is influenced by patriarchal interests and forces. Patriarchy is a social dynamic that encourages, inter alia, the expression of dependency needs and behaviours in women, and discourages their expression in men. Dependent individuals are motivated to enter and maintain nurturing and supportive relationships with others. High dependency needs can have a negative impact on interpersonal relationships, and can result in the failure of these relationships. Such failure is experienced by dependent individuals as emotionally distressing, and results in affective pain. Alcohol, under certain, everyday conditions can temporarily alleviate emotional pain. The current study hypothesized that as a consequence of the above dynamics, dependency is more likely to be a feature in the presentation of women alcoholics than among men alcoholics. This was tested by comparing the mean levels of dependency for women alcoholics with that for men alcoholics, women non-alcoholics and men non-alcoholics. The MCMI-II self-report inventory was used to measure dependency. Data was obtained from an alcoholic outpatient clinic and a general medical outpatient clinic. Women alcoholics were found to report higher levels of dependency than women non-alcoholics. However, they were not found to manifest higher levels of dependency than men alcoholics.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts (Clinical Psychology). Johannesburg September 1996.
Carr, Spencer (1996) Gender differences in dependency among alcoholics, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>