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Intimate Relationships of Adult Children of Alcoholics

Description: Difficulties developing and maintaining intimate relationships are often attributed to adult children of alcoholics (ACAs). However, the focus of the literature has been on those obtaining psychological treatment and has primarily involved clinical impressions. The purpose of this study was to examine intimacy in the close friendships and love relationships of ACAs. Autonomy and intimacy in respondents' families of origin were also analyzed. Comparisons were made between ACAs currently in (n = 59) and not in (n = 53) therapy, and comparisons who had (n = 48) and had not (n = 77) received therapy. Alcoholics were eliminated. It was hypothesized that ACAs would score significantly lower than comparisons on love and friendship intimacy and autonomy and intimacy in their families of origin. Among the ACAs, those in therapy would score lower than those not in therapy. Hypotheses were tested using MANOVAS. ANOVAs were administered where there were significant differences, and Newman-Keuls contrasts further delineated the divergence. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to obtain explanatory data. The two ACA groups seem to represent distinct populations with those not in therapy failing to report intimacy differences previously ascribed to them. While all of the groups were similar in friendship closeness, only the ACAs in therapy had significantly less intimacy in love relationships. Furthermore, clinical ACAs differed from the other groups by having less family of origin health, more physical and sexual abuse, more maternal drinking, more depression, and more suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Family of origin health predicted intimacy in a love relationship. Family characteristics encompassing honesty, empathy and respect, which may or may not involve alcoholism, seemed to create an atmosphere of faulty parenting in the ACA clinical group which may have subsequently affected the child's intimacy in a love relationship. Results of the study support a developmental model and ...
Date: August 1988
Creator: Settle, Karen Ree
Partner: UNT Libraries