WOMEN WHO DRINK by John & Dolores deNobrega Langone Langone


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A fairly slapdash effort, lacking depth of research or conviction, and stopping short of any kind of authoritative voice. Underlying the problem of women's drinking, we are told, is lack of self-esteem; and though the Langones tend to believe that women drink because of a ""psychosocial makeup"" different from men's, they are unable, finally, to make this point stick. Yes, it is true that men don't have to cope with the ""Superwoman"" myth or worry about being ""feminine"": but as the authors stress later on, men worry about their jobs just as women worry about emotional crises (failing marriages, menopause, etc.)--so is ""self-esteem"" not equally, if differently, an issue for men? As for the physical effects of alcohol, not enough evidence is cited to prove conclusively that the woman who drinks, smokes, and takes the pill ""faces a triple threat of elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels"" which could result in ""hardening of the arteries""; or that ""the ingestion of alcohol by a pregnant woman is one of the most frequent causes of mental deficiency."" Partly, the points are clouded by imprecise language; the Langones almost certainly do not mean that one drink could produce such effects--they are assuming heavy consumption--but they aren't cautious enough about underlining this fact. And, there and elsewhere, they do seem to waver. Some children of alcoholics, for example, survive admirably by playing the role of ""responsible one"" and even develop a sense of self-worth; but later we are told that such offspring can carry the role forward inappropriately into adulthood, and even seek alcoholics to marry. As for helping hands, there's a run-through on some of the more innovative, women-centered groups, as well as a semi-indictment of AA (ineffective, ""some women"" hold, because of its ""male orientation""). Altogether, the impression created is that the subject's interest and timeliness outweighed the authors' lack of anything pressing to say on the matter. Though not the whole answer, Marian Sandmaier's The Invisible Alcoholics (1979, p. 1366) more closely meets the needs of those affected.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1980
Publisher: Addison-Wesley