Women with alcoholic husbands: ambivalence and the trap of codependency
In this important new study of women with alcoholic husbands, sociologist Ramona Asher vividly describes the process of coming to terms with a profound crisis in one's private life. Her interviews with more than fifty women, all participants in family treatment programs, enabled Asher to assemble a composite picture of the experiences shared by wives of alcoholics. How they came to see the crisis in their lives, and how they began to recognize their own very mixed emotions--that is the dramatic story Asher presents. The testimony given by these women illustrates the steps each must take to regain hold of her life. The first step, as Asher shows, is confronting "definitional ambivalence"-- figuring out what is happening and deciding what to do about it. Asher argues that the current vogue of using the label "dependent" may actually hinder rather than facilitate emotional health. Because the concept of codependency reinforces the idea that women are compulsively vulnerable to men in need of nurturing, Asher argues that it prompts women to feel incapable of becoming assertive, independent individuals. Led to think of themselves as addicted to their husbands' addiction, the wives of alcoholics may be persuaded that their own problems can't be overcome. Asher shows that they can take command of their lives. Asher's analysis breaks through popular notions about wives of alcoholics and presents a whole new understanding of denial, control, and other so-called symptoms of codependency. Her book raises important questions about how society views women who are married to alcoholics.
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Outlining the Moral Career i
Recognizing the Ambivalence
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abuse accept actions activities Al-Anon alco alcoholic husband Alcoholics Anonymous angry anymore apologies attitudes awareness becoming the wife behavior career of becoming challenges changes chemical dependency codependency concept conflict context contingencies defining definitional ambivalence definitional enterprise depersonalizing designation deviance disruptive drinking problem drunk embarrassment emerge emotional emotionality example expectations family program feel felt following excerpts friends Goffman guess happened holic hurt images implications incompatible interactional and cultural interpretations interview involves kids kind knew label lence lived experiences marital married to alcoholics mean moral career motive offerings negative negotiated never okay ongoing participation person plausible problem amplification phase problematic proximal treatment phase questions rehabilitation reification relationship response role self-definition self-imagery significant situations social sociological imagination sort stance symbolic talk tell things thought tion understand valuating violence wife's wives of alcoholics woman women married