Page 1

K N JAYAKUMAR et al. / (IJAEBM) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ADVANCED ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Vol No. 1, Issue No. 1, 006 - 013

EB M

Reliving the Past: Experiences of Adult Children of Alcoholics in Love Relationship K N Jayakumar*

A

Ph.D. Research Scholar, Department of Psychology, Periyar University, Salem -636 011 Tamil Nadu, India

IJ

e-mail id: jayakumar1927@gmail.com

ISSN: 2230-7826

@ 2011 http://www.ijaebm.iserp.org. All rights Reserved.

Page 6


K N JAYAKUMAR et al. / (IJAEBM) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ADVANCED ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Vol No. 1, Issue No. 1, 006 - 013

Reliving the Past: Experiences of Adult Children of Alcoholics in Love Relationship ABSTRACT

EB M

Introduction: The capacity for love is a central component of all human societies. Love in all its manifestations, whether for children, parents, friends, or romantic partners, gives depth to human relationships. Although there is an assumption in much of the research that an individual‘s adult attachment style develops from the relationship that individual has with his or her own parent, the association between early relationships with parents and subsequent behaviour in love relationships has rarely been studied. Background: Studies have found that having at least one alcoholic parent disturbs the children and family relationships. Early attachment relationship with a primary care giver is a prototype for later love relationships. Rationale: To know the kind of experience they go through when they develop a love relationship later as adolescents or adults. Methodology: The experiences in love-relationship of adults‘ of alcoholic parents and non-alcoholic parents were studied by comparison. The purposive sample consisted of 200 (N) college student participants who were involved in intimate relationship (heterosexual in nature). They were administered Children of Alcoholics Screening Test (CAST) and Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised (ECR-R) questionnaire. Based on the CAST cut off scores (six and above) the sample was grouped into two i.e. a) adult children of alcoholic parent/s (n1=86) and b) adult children having non-alcoholic parent/s (n2=114). Conclusion: When compared, the adults of alcoholic parents had experienced significantly higher levels of anxiety and avoidance in their intimate love relationships, than the adult children of non-alcoholic parents.

IJ

A

Key words: love, attachment, adult children, alcoholic parent, CAST, ECR-R

ISSN: 2230-7826

@ 2011 http://www.ijaebm.iserp.org. All rights Reserved.

Page 7


K N JAYAKUMAR et al. / (IJAEBM) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ADVANCED ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Vol No. 1, Issue No. 1, 006 - 013

INTRODUCTION

IJ

A

EB M

Love is a deep and tender feeling of affection for or attachment to one or more persons. Love relationships include characteristics such as fascination, sexual desire, and exclusiveness, such that lovers tend to be preoccupied with their partners in an exclusive sexual relationship [1]. The capacity for love is a central component of all human societies. Love in all its manifestations, whether for children, parents, friends, or romantic partners, gives depth to human relationships. Love makes people think expansively about themselves and the world. Making love relationships is not only more rewarding, but also more frustrating too. Love is a special form of reciprocal relationship or attachment. The term attachment normally implies strong liking or love for a person, but in the study of psychology, the term refers to the special reciprocal relationship [2, 3, 4]. People‘s romantic relationships and beliefs about love are similar with the kind of attachment they formed with their parents during childhood [5]. The way people approach close relationships as well as their view of love can be a reflection of their personal development. The characteristic style of attachment to their parents also influences their attachment style, which is the typical style of becoming involved with others. Securely attached people believe it is easy to get close to others, and they report happy and trusting love relationships, people with avoidant attachment style feel uneasy when people get too close to them and anxiousambivalent style people desire a high level of closeness, which they may not get [5]. People tend to attach to their romantic partners as they did with their parents. One of the major tenets of Bowlby‘s attachment theory [6] is that the experience of poor relating to the parents during upbringing sets the stage for difficulties in later relationships, and ultimately represent a factor contributing to an individual‘s vulnerability for psychopathological disorders [7, 8, 9, 10]. The kind of attachment style a person develops depends largely on the nature of parents. Parents problem do affect the attachment style. One of the many ills that affect parents is alcohol. A large amount of research has been carried out investigating the effect of parent‘s

alcohol problems on their families [11, 12, 13]. Parents‘ with alcohol problems have been reported as having a detrimental effect on their families and particularly on children. Higher levels of negative events and lower levels of positive events (as measured by the Children of Alcoholic Life-Events Schedule, COALES) have been reported by highschool students who self-reported having an alcoholic parent [14]. Children of alcoholics receiving treatment have also been reported to have greater emotional disturbance, particularly anxiety and depression, compared to children of recovered alcoholics and children of non-alcoholic matched controls [15].

ISSN: 2230-7826

Rationale

Early experiences of parental rearing, lead to the development of internal working models of self and others in relationship. Such internal models are successively incorporated into the individual‘s psychological organization [16, 17] and significantly influence the quality, style, and course of later relationships [18, 19, 20, 17]. Although there is an assumption in much of the research that an individual‘s adult attachment style develops from the relationship that individual has with his or her own parent, the association between early relationships with alcoholic parents and subsequent behaviour in love relationships has rarely been studied. The quality of love relationship these adult children of alcoholic parents develop later in adolescence or adulthood and what they experience in this relationship is a question, which requires research attention. Must attachment behaviour always transfer to an adult love partner is the question that this study tries to explore. METHOD Objective and hypotheses Attachment theory would predict that parents with a secure attachment pattern, in contrast to their insecure counterparts, would have the necessary emotional resources to engage in positive childrearing behaviors consistent with an authoritative parenting style. These behaviors should promote

@ 2011 http://www.ijaebm.iserp.org. All rights Reserved.

Page 8


K N JAYAKUMAR et al. / (IJAEBM) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ADVANCED ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Vol No. 1, Issue No. 1, 006 - 013

1. Adult children of alcoholic parent/s will experience significantly higher attachment anxiety in their love relationships. 2. Adult children of alcoholic parent/s will experience significantly higher attachment avoidance in their love relationships.

A

Sample and Procedure

IJ

200 College students from Bangalore who fulfilled the following inclusive criteria i.e, 1) Currently are involved in love relationship with opposite sex and 2) They have the awareness that their parent/s take alcohol. Measures

CAST (The Children of Alcoholics Screening Test): Jones and Pilat to identify the Children of alcoholics who are either living with or lived with the alcoholic parent/s developed the test. It discriminates between the offspring of alcoholic parent and the offspring of non-alcoholic parent. CAST is a 30 item-screening test with a yes / no response option. It has high reliability and validity (Crobhach‘s alpha is 0.92 and test re-test coefficient

ISSN: 2230-7826

is 0.96). Six is the cut-off score and any participant‘s score of six or above is more likely to have an alcoholic parent. Item number 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 12, 16, 19, 20, 22, 23, and 28 measures the parents drinking problem. Item number 5, 6, 7, 11, 14, 15, 18, 24, 27 and 29 measures the personal distress. Item number 13, 17, 21 and 30 measures the responsibility for parental drinking. In addition, item number 25 and 26 measures the alcoholic mother. ECR-R (The Experiences in Close RelationshipsRevised Questionnaire) developed by Fraley, Waller, and Brennan (2000) to assess the attachment style of the samples. It identifies two dimensions of attachment, one dimension dealing with anxiety about the relationship, and the other dimension dealing with avoidance in the relationship. The inventory is a self-administered scale and has 36 items. ECR-R is designed to assess individual differences with respect to attachmentrelated anxiety (i.e., the extent to which people are insecure vs. secure about the extent to which their partner's availability and responsiveness) and attachment-related avoidance (i.e., the extent to which people are uncomfortable being close to others vs. secure depending on others). Attachment anxiety and avoidance subscales have 18 items each, with a 7-point rating. The ECR instrument shows high reliability and validity. The test-retest had Cronbach‘s alpha rating of .93 for the Anxiety scale and the .95 for the Avoidance scale.

EB M

healthy expectations of close relationships. According to Bowlby [6], during childhood individuals form an ‗internal working model‘ a mental representation of the relationship between the self and others, in the process of interacting with its attachment figures. These models serve as blue print to guide the individual‘s behaviour in attachment relationships. Poor parental care due to alcohol use/abuse in the family during childhood constitutes a major risk factor in psychosocial development, affecting both the ability to relate and psychological well-being in adulthood. Grown up children or adults are likely to express these secure or insecure relationship patterns in any relationship, and romantic relationships they formed may not be an exception. Based on these collective assumptions, the objective of the present study is to compare and study the quality of love relationship of adult children of alcoholic parents with that of the children of non-alcoholic parents. This led to the following hypotheses.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Table 1 Sample Size, Age, Gender distribution and CAST Mean and Standard Deviation scores and t-value

Sampl e Size and Age in yrs

N= 200 M =19.82 SD =1.67

CAST Score

Group

Mean

Cut-off Score

t-value

SD

Adult children of Non-alcoholic Parents (n1=114, Males = 52, Females = 34)

1.98

1.60

6 and below

Adult children of Alcoholic Parents (n2=86, Males = 76, Females = 38)

10.65

4.08

Above 6

-18.62 p<0.001

The sample consisted of 200 (N) participants aged between 17 and 24 years with an average age of 19.82 years (SD = 1.67). Among the sample 72 were females and 128 were males. This shows that

@ 2011 http://www.ijaebm.iserp.org. All rights Reserved.

Page 9


K N JAYAKUMAR et al. / (IJAEBM) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ADVANCED ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Vol No. 1, Issue No. 1, 006 - 013

Table 2 gives an overview difference between both the groups on ECR-R subscale attachment anxiety. There now appears to be a consensus that adult attachment consists of these two dimensions: Anxiety and Avoidance [21]. Attachment anxiety is defined as involving a fear of interpersonal rejection or abandonment, an excessive need for approval from others, and distress when one‘s partner is unavailable or unresponsive. Adult children of alcoholic parents have high scores (Mean = 4.25, SD = 0.06) compared to their counterparts and the difference is significant (p<0.001). Lovers are mostly preoccupied with the thoughts of their partners in an exclusive fascinating relationship [1]. Instead, here we discover these adult children of alcoholic parents experiencing anxiety and distress. This anxiety could be because of the poor ability to make and maintain love relationships entangled with extreme attitudes of inter-personal avoidance or dependence, fear or anger having its roots in the flawed internal working model created by them during their childhood. This confirms the adverse childhood experience due to inconsistent and insensitive parenting affected by parental alcohol abuse. Adult children of alcoholic Hence, the hypothesis ― parent/s will experience significantly higher attachment anxiety in their love relationships‖ is sustained. Briere [22] describes the typical upbringing of children in an alcoholic household, writing that these children were ―deprivedof being parented—instead living with one or more people who could not be counted upon for safety, security or nurturance‖ (p. 14). As a result, they experience emotional anxiety. Even the adult children of nonalcoholic parents have mild anxiety in love relations and this needs research attention. The postulate that entering into and maintaining love relations by itself have a tinge of anxiety, which needs further research.

A

EB M

the sample consisted of adults. All the participants were college students pursuing studies in different disciplines of Arts, Science, Commerce and Management. Participants who fulfilled the inclusive criteria were administered the CAST and the ECR-R questionnaire. CAST differentiates those children/adolescents/adults of alcoholic parents with those of non-alcoholic parents. Based on the CAST cut-off scores, the sample was grouped into two. Participants having an alcoholic parent/s were grouped as Adult Children of Alcoholic Parents (n1=86, males=52 and females=34) and Participants having non-alcoholic parent/s were grouped as Adult children of nonalcoholic parents (n2=114, males=76 and females=38). Non- alcoholic parent means they are not problem drinkers, but they too take alcohol occasionally/very rarely yet cannot be labeled as alcoholics. The mean and t-value suggests that CAST score for Adult children of alcoholic parents was significantly higher than that of Adult children of non-alcoholic parents. It could be drawn from the above table that, children of the alcoholic parent/s are at a disadvantageous position compared to their counterparts in terms of family support and stability, parental guidance, happiness, trust, cohesiveness and mental health. From Bowlby‘s perspective, these people would have developed an inconsistent internal working model during their childhood. This does not augur well for a health psychosociodevelopment. An average score of 10.65 in CAST shows the magnitude of the problem they gone/going through.

IJ

The scores of adult children of non-alcoholic parents are well below the cut-off score. This shows that their parents are occasional drinkers and are similar to normal parents capable of maintaining healthy relations in the family. Hence, the huge difference in CAST scores between the groups. Table 2 Mean, SD and t-value scores on Attachment anxiety subscale for both the groups

ECR-R score for Attachment anxiety

Group

n

Adult children of Nonalcoholic Parents Adult children of Alcoholic Parents

114

Mean 3.04

SD 0.50

86

4.25

0.60

ISSN: 2230-7826

t-value

Table 3 Mean, SD and t-value scores on the Attachment avoidance subscale for both the groups

Group -10.69 p<0.001

Adult children of Nonalcoholic Parents Adult children of Alcoholic Parents

@ 2011 http://www.ijaebm.iserp.org. All rights Reserved.

114

ECR-R score for Attachment avoidance Mean SD 2.92 0.51

86

3.75

n

0.47

t-value

-8.38 p< 0.001

Page 10


K N JAYAKUMAR et al. / (IJAEBM) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ADVANCED ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Vol No. 1, Issue No. 1, 006 - 013

the development of internal working models of self and others, because of a child‘s early transactions with his/her attachment figures. These internal working models greatly influence later relationships. Presence of alcoholic parent influences the development of interpersonal aspects of Children and this in-turn influences their love relationships. Experiences in Close Relationships scale measures attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. People who score high on either or both of these dimensions are assumed to have an insecure adult attachment orientation. By contrast, people with low levels of attachment anxiety and avoidance can be viewed as having a secure adult attachment orientation [26, 27, 28]. The study was conducted on non-clinical population. The results confirm that adult children of alcoholic parents have more anxiety and avoidance in their love relationships compared to their counterparts. The reason could be the development of flawed internal working model during their formative years of psychosociodevelopment. This is in tune with the finding of Deutsch, [29] that adult children of alcoholics have difficulty with intimate relationships and are emotionally isolated.

IJ

A

EB M

The second hypothesis predicted, ―A dult children of alcoholic parent/s will experience significantly higher attachment avoidance in their love relationships‖. Accordingly, adult Children of alcoholic parents showed greater score on attachment avoidance with a mean of 3.75 (SD = 0.47) compared to their counterparts of nonalcoholic parents with mean score of 2.92 (SD = 0.51) and the independent t-test value of -8.38 suggested a significant difference, at p<0.001. Attachment avoidance is defined as involving fear of dependence and interpersonal intimacy, an excessive need for self-reliance, and reluctance to self-disclose. The Adult children of alcoholic parents tend to feel insecure in their love relationship, hence the high scores. They are likely to adopt ‗insecure‘ interpersonal strategies, which involves either deactivation of the attachment need, in order to be able to avoid the negative consequences expected when proximity is sought, or hyperactivation of the attachment need, in order to (re)gain proximity to an attachment figure [23]. More over adult children of alcoholic‘s are trapped in the fears and reactions of a child and are forced to be an adult without going through the natural stages that result in a health adult [24]. Rivers [25] points out that, ―si nce the family is the context in which children usually learn to express their feelings, to love and express affection and to trust and to share intimate aspects of their lives, it is understandable that many adult children of alcoholics have significant problems with psychosocial adjustment.‖ Specifically, they show ―ext reme difficulty in sharing themselves in intimate ways with other people‖. This could be probably explaining the anxiety they experience. By reconfirming Freud‘s insight that early attachment is the prototype of later relations, the finding adds valuable knowledge for the therapists who deal with relationship issues. CONCLUSION

The study tried to pull together the earlier experiences of adult children of alcoholics and their quality of love relationships from a framework of attachment theory. Attachment theory postulates

ISSN: 2230-7826

REFERENCES

[1] Simpson, J. A., & Gangestad, S.W. (1992). Sociosexuality and romantic partner choice. Journal of Personality. [2] Fonagy, P., Steele, H., & Steele, M. (1991). Maternal representations of attachment during pregnancy predict the organization of infant–mother attachment at one year of age. Child Development, 62,891-905. [3] Perry, B. D. (2002). Childhood experience and the expression of genetic potential: What childhood neglect tells us about nature and nurture.Brain and Mind, 3, 79–100. [4] Sutton, B. J. (2005). Scientific foundations for the social brain concept. Psychiatric Annals, 35(10), 793–802.

@ 2011 http://www.ijaebm.iserp.org. All rights Reserved.

Page 11


K N JAYAKUMAR et al. / (IJAEBM) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ADVANCED ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Vol No. 1, Issue No. 1, 006 - 013

[5] Shaver, P, R., & Hazan, C, (1994). Attachment as an organizational framework for research in close relationships. Psychological inquiry,5, 1-22. [6] Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. London:Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis.

[14] Roosa, M. W., Sandler, I., Gehring, M., Beals, J. & Cappo, L. (1988a) The children of alcoholics lifeevents schedule, a stress scale for children of alcohol-abusing parents. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 49, pp. 422429. [15] Moos, R. & Bilungs, A. G. (1982) Children of alcoholics during the recovery process: alcoholic and matched control families. Addictive Behaviours, 7, pp. 155-163.

EB M

[7] Perris C. 1988. A theoretical framework for linking the experience of dysfunctional rearing attitudes with manifest psychopathology. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 78 (Suppl. 344): 93–110.

review, Public Health Reports, 104, pp. 433442.

[8] Perris C. 1994. Linking the experience of dysfunctional parental rearing with manifest psychopathology: A theoretical framework. In Parenting and Psychopathology, Perris C, Arrindell WA, Eisemann M (eds). Wiley: Chichester; 3–32. [9] Birtchnell J. 1993. Does recollection of exposure to poor maternal care in childhood affect later ability to relate? British Journal of Psychiatry 162: 335–344.

A

[10] Gittleman MG, Klein MH, Smider NA, Essex MJ. (1998). Recollections of parental behaviour, adult attachment and mental health: mediating and moderating effects. Psychological Medicine 28: 1443–1455.

IJ

[11] Guebaly, N. & Opfokd, D. R. (1977) The offspring of alcoholics: a critical review, American Journal of Psychiatry, 134, pp. 357-365. [12] Jacob, T., Favorini, A., Meisel, S. S. & Anderson, C. M. (1978) The alcoholic's spouse, children, and fiamily interactions: substantive findings and methodological issues. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 39, pp. 1231-1251 [13] Plant, M. A, Orford, J. & Grant, M. (1989) The effects on children and adolescents of parents' excessive drinking: an international

ISSN: 2230-7826

[16] Sroufe LA, Waters E. (1977). Attachment as an organization construct. Child Development 48: 1184–1199. [17] Parker G, Barrett EA, Hickie IB. (1992). From nurture to network: examining links between perceptions of parenting received in childhood and social bonds in adulthood. American Journal of Psychiatry 149: 877– 885. [18] Flaherty JA, Richman JA. (1986). Effects of childhood relationships on the adult‘s capacity to form social supports. American Journal of Psychiatry 143: 851–855.

[19] Sarason IG, Sarason BR, Shearin EN. (1986). Social support as an individual difference variable: its stability, origins and relational aspects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 50: 845–855. [20] Rodriguez Vega B, Bayon C, Franco B, Canas F, Graell M, Salvador M. (1993). Parental rearing and intimate relations in women‘s depression. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 88: 193–197. [21] Mikulincer, M., Shaver, P. R., & Pereg, D. (2003). Attachment theory and affect regulation: The dynamic development, and cognitive consequences of attachment-

@ 2011 http://www.ijaebm.iserp.org. All rights Reserved.

Page 12


K N JAYAKUMAR et al. / (IJAEBM) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ADVANCED ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Vol No. 1, Issue No. 1, 006 - 013

related strategies. Motivation and Emotion, 27, 77–102. [22] Briere, J. (1992). Child abuse trauma. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

EB M

[23] Coby Gerlsma (2000)Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy Clin. Psychol. Psychother. 7, 289–295 Copyright _ 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Recollections of Parental Care and Quality of Intimate Relationships: The Role of Re-evaluating Past Attachment Experiences [24] Ruben, D. (2001). Treating adult children of alcoholics. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

[25] Rivers, P. C. (1994). Alcohol and human behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.p.233. [26] Brennan, K. A., Clark, C. L., & Shaver, P. R. (1998). Self-report measurement of adult attachment: An integrative overview. In J. A. Simpson &W. S. Rholes (Eds.), Attachment theory and close relationships (pp. 46–76).New York: Guilford.

A

[27] Lopez, F. G., & Brennan, K. A. (2000). Dynamic processes underlying adult attachment organization: Toward an attachment theoretical perspective on the healthy and effective self. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 47, 283–301.

IJ

[28] Mallinckrodt, B. (2000). Attachment, social competencies, social support, and interpersonal process in psychotherapy. Psychotherapy Research, 10, 239–266. [29] Deutsch, C. (1982). Broken bottle, broken dreams. New York: Teachers College Press.p.5.

ISSN: 2230-7826

@ 2011 http://www.ijaebm.iserp.org. All rights Reserved.

Page 13

2-IJAEBM-Volume-No-1-Issue-No-1-Reliving-the-Past-Experiences-of-Adult-Children-006-013  

K N Jayakumar* Ph.D. Research Scholar, Department of Psychology, Periyar University, Salem -636 011 Tamil Nadu, India e-mail id: jayakumar19...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you