Alcoholism and Its Professional Treatment a Survey of the Facilities for the Professional Treatment of Alcoholics in New York City, 1955–1956

Maria T Villamor, Fordham University


Background of the Study. The writer’s interest in a survey of the professional treatment facilities for alcoholics in New York City during 1955-56 is a by-product of the dramatic changes in attitudes and approaches that have taken place towards the problem of alcoholism in an astonishingly short time. There has taken place what amounts to a revolution in our thinking about alcoholism and the finest fruits of this revolution is the hope that has been brought to every alcoholic and to their families and friends. Most of the fruits of this revolution are still to be harvested, but the tangible benefits achieved to the present are dramatic and far-reaching. Within a short time, there has been a shift in our thinking from a non-acceptance of the disease concept of alcoholism to a wide acceptance of such a concept by such groups as the American Medical Association, the medical societies, the government, some industries, the press, and large segments of the public. There is no argument as to the three forces in this country which have been most important in having accomplished this change. To mention them in the order of their inception: (1) the Center of Alcohol Studies of Yale University which, since the early thirties, has had a program which includes in the study of alcoholism the fields of general medicine, psychiatry, psychology, sociology, economics and law. For the last thirteen years it has also been conducting its Summer School of Alcohol Studies, where, in a four-week period, physicians, nurses, clergymen, judges, social workers, teachers, etc., have become acquainted with the problem. It was the first group to establish Alcoholic Clinics in this country and the two pilot Alcoholic Clinics that it established in Connecticut in 1944 have served as a model for other Outpatient Alcoholic Clinics throughout the country. (2) Alcoholic Anonymous, A.A., a volunteer lay organization of recovered alcoholics which has been in existence since 1934. Actually, A.A. is primarily a therapeutic approach and the most important benefits derived from it by the alcoholics seem to be the gaining back of their self respect and spiritual solace. Other benefits, such as increased knowledge of self, relief from a feeling of guilt and gain in status, coincide or overlap with the first two. However, the results achieved by this group are too outstanding to deserve only a limited mention. In the opinion of Dr. C. Lolli eminent psychiatrist, who is also an authority on alcoholism, no professional group can compete with A.A. in terms of rehabilitated alcoholics. He considers that the basic principles of this organization are very sound and none of them conflict with the accepted psychodynamic views. (3) the National Committee on Alcoholism, organized in 1944, the only national voluntary organization working for the prevention and reduction of alcoholism through education, rehabilitation and community services. Since its beginning, its major objectives have been to arouse public opinion on alcoholism, then to mobilize the public for action. It is composed of physicians, scientists and laymen. Its Executive Director is Mrs. Marty Mann, herself a recovered alcoholic, and author of "Primer on Alcoholism" which has been of great help to the alcoholic, his relatives and the layman. The President, Harold W. Lovell, a psychiatrist who has specialized in alcoholism, is the author of "Hope and Help for the Alcoholic" which is mainly geared to the medical profession.

Subject Area

Social studies education|Clinical psychology|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Villamor, Maria T, "Alcoholism and Its Professional Treatment a Survey of the Facilities for the Professional Treatment of Alcoholics in New York City, 1955–1956" (1956). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30670795.