ERIC Number: ED254784
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Children of Alcoholics: Patterns of Dysfunction in Adult Life.
Wood, Barbara L.
Children of alcoholic parents often defend against family instability by adopting roles (hero, scapegoat, lost child, mascot) which bring a semblance of stability to the family. While one role may seem to dominate the character of an individual child, all four roles may be seen in the same child; at times conditions may cause an exchange of roles. Adult children of alcoholics often exhibit swings in mood and behavior similar to the role exchanges in children. Behavioral and emotional characteristics common to adult children of alcoholics include low self-esteem, constant need for approval, self-criticism, and difficulty in interpersonal relationships. These characteristics are often associated with failure in the developmental process of separation and individuation. Forces in the alcoholic family may hamper children's efforts to separate from their parents and grow into mature individuated adults. Instead, a distorted, false self arises which is unstable and vulnerable to breakdowns or shifts in ego states. Much of the difficulty that adult children of alcoholics encounter in separating from their parents stems from their capacity for attachment and love, and their ability to empathize. These characteristics can be put to good use in treatment of the adult children of alcoholics. (NRB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Adult Children
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (92nd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, August 24-28, 1984).