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August 19, 1968

The Personality of the Alcoholic: Guises of Dependency

Author Affiliations

St. Louis


by Howard T. Blane, 175 pp, $5.95, New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1968.

JAMA. 1968;205(8):599. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140340069030

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Somebody has said that in every fat man there is a thin one begging to be let free. The author of this book believes that in every alcoholic is a child with thwarted "dependency needs."

All men are created dependent, the author holds, but some get over it more than others. Alcoholics are notoriously slow to get over it. whatever their behavior—whether angry or depressed, assertive or servile— unfulfilled dependency needs lie at the bottom of it. Effective treatment depends on the therapist recognizing these needs and responding appropriately.

Most of the book is devoted to elaboration on this theme and suggestions for appropriate therapeutic response. In support of his theory the author relies entirely on clinical observation by himself and others (rarely identifying the others). Although the proposition that alcoholics have a specific personality has been debated in psychiatry for years and been rejected by most current authorities, the