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Title:Adult children of alcoholics and identification with family roles
Author(s):Alford, Karola Marie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Farmer, Helen S.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Developmental
Psychology, General
Psychology, Personality
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Abstract:Experts in the field of chemical dependency have described families with parental alcoholism as being bound by roles. Wegscheider-Cruse's (1985) typology describes four roles commonly adopted by children of alcoholics. Although this conceptualization of alcoholic families is widely used, little research has been done to validate it.
This study examined role identification in 748 college undergraduates through the use of the Children's Roles Inventory (CRI) and the Characteristics of Self and Family Form (CSFF). Using the CSFF, a subscale was created to assess family dysfunction (n = 117). ACOA (n = 198) were identified by responses that indicated parental alcohol abuse. Wegscheider-Cruse's roles were defined by the CRI. ACOA and non-ACOA were compared for differences in the degree and type of role identification. A comparison was also made for dysfunctional and non-dysfunctional family offspring independent of ACOA.
Comparing role identification in ACOA and non-ACOA, no significant difference was found in either the degree of identification or the type of role adopted. The severity of family dysfunction among ACOA was not found to be significantly associated with the degree of role adoption. Examining the total sample, subjects from dysfunctional families had significantly higher scores on the Scapegoat and Lost Child roles, were three times more likely to take on the Lost Child role as their dominant role, and significantly less likely to adopt the Mascot role.
Females were found in greater numbers than males in the identification with the Hero role, and had significantly higher scores on that scale than males. Males were found in greater numbers than females in the Scapegoat and Mascot roles and had significantly higher scores on the Scapegoat role than females.
The present study identifies family dysfunction and gender as factors significantly related to identification with family roles. It is concluded that conceptualizations currently used to describe adult children of alcoholics need to be tested more thoroughly to justify their use in therapy and that it is important to recognize the wider social context surrounding the individual when assessing the impact of family processes.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Alford, Karola Marie
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9512282
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9512282

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