Personality Characteristics of Adolescents with Alcoholic Parents

By Tomori, Martina | Adolescence, Winter 1994 | Go to article overview

Personality Characteristics of Adolescents with Alcoholic Parents


Tomori, Martina, Adolescence


INTRODUCTION

Investigations of various factors known to increase the risk of alcohol addiction in adolescents have invariably stressed the association between the personality traits of prospective alcoholics and their dysfunctional family. The unsatisfactory social context, which aggravates the adverse effects of those factors, is commonly determined by parental alcoholism, which significantly affects the dysfunctional family dynamics.

The studies addressing the issue of alcohol abuse in adolescents deal primarily with the following clusters of risk factors: parental influence, peer influence, social context of adolescent involvement in alcohol, and personality characteristics of adolescent misusers (Mayer, 1988).

Our clinical and research work has indicated that in adolescence the above-mentioned factors are most closely interrelated and highly interdependent. Since personality traits are formed within the family, family relations and family dynamics represent, in addition to a number of subjective and objective factors, important determinants of the adolescent personality profile. Similarly, social behavior characteristics, which are so intimately connected with self-image and the process of separation and individuation, reflect all strong and weak points of the family process. Several researchers have identified high levels of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and low educational goals as common personality characteristics of adolescent problem drinkers (Lisansky & Gomberg, 1982; Mayer, 1988). These characteristics are in many aspects determined by the parental abuse of alcohol and the deleterious effects of alcoholism on the family. Unassertive parents are unable to enhance assertiveness in their children, nor can they promote their uneventful and trauma-free experiences separation process, one of the main axes of adolescent psychodynamics.

Feelings of being rejected and constant fear of emotional loss, which accompany children of alcoholic parents throughout their childhood, tend to culminate in adolescence, a time when the feelings become even more destructive and are further intensified by the adolescent's need for independence. Feelings of inferiority additionally impede separation of children from alcoholic families. Their loneliness provides an ideal breeding ground for the accumulating anxiety, self-rejection, and mistrust of others. Hostility associated with these feelings may assume various forms of aggression. Such adolescents use alcohol to relieve anxiety, reduce dissatisfaction and mistrust, and give vent to accumulated aggression. In adolescents brought up in alcoholic family environments, alcohol, entering through several receptor sites, fills many gaps left over from the development period prior to separation. Their parents--either the alcoholic parent, or the partner living with him/her in co-dependency, or both of them--who are themselves filled with distress, depression, and anxiety, usually cling to their children while at the same time manifesting overt signs of resentment and rejection. In this state of pathological ambivalence, they both reject their children and try to tie them to themselves, thus seriously hindering their separation. As a result, many children of alcoholic parents develop defensive aggression or passive resistance, or take recourse to some other inappropriate patterns of defensive behavior. Their negative self-image, rendered even more somber by the feeling of shame caused by the alcoholism of their parents, only adds to their loneliness and low sense of well-being. They have no opportunity to learn how to cope with anxiety and depression. Encouraged by the disinhibiting effects of alcohol, they find it easier to enter the world outside their family borders in search of relief and self-assertion (Berlin, Davis, & Orenstein, 1988).

Filled with feelings of inferiority, such adolescents cannot or dare not seek accomplishment in a healthy peer group, although their need for social approval and their wish to be accepted as part of the group is much stronger than in their peers who are growing up in a supportive and affectionate family environment. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Personality Characteristics of Adolescents with Alcoholic Parents
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.