The Alcoholic Personality
There is no identifiable kind of person who could be specifically called an alcoholic personality. It is said that alcoholics are like everybody else, except more so. They do seem to have a number of traits in abundance that, although shared by everyone, in the alcoholic exist in excess. There are four traits, some of which are genetically acquired. The first is a low frustration tolerance. Although everyone is annoyed by long-term dysphoric* states of mind, in the alcoholic these reach a high degree.
Another trait is sensitivity. This is often related to interpersonal relations. Alcoholics have a low rejection threshold, yet sensitivity appears to be related to a higher level of intellection [intellect/intelligence], which may explain why alcoholism is over-represented among gifted persons. If we look at the Nobel prize winners in literature, we will see that the majority of these laureates were afflicted [with alcoholism].
The third trait is a poor self-image. It appears that most alcoholics have this low sense of their own worth. This characteristic mind-set is not the result of the consequences of drinking, but in most cases predates the onset of heavy drinking.
The final trait is isolation. This is not the person who sits back in a corner during a party or gathering. Many alcoholics are charming, persuasive and articulate. I refer to the person who has never been able to relate intimately with at least one other person. He has never been able to share any meaningful information about himself, his fears, dreads, aspirations and hope with at least one other human being.
*Medical definition of dysphoric - An emotional state marked by anxiety, depression, and restlessness.
- Dr. James West