A new academic study has been released that appears to indicate that alcoholic men may suffer from an increased inability to fully grasp concepts such as empathy and irony. In a more general sense, the study supports the conclusion that men who drink to excess appear to lose the ability to understand complex forms of communication. The study included an even number of alcoholic and non-alcoholic men. The study participants were asked to read a story that included a section regarding irony, and then to also read a story where the concept of irony was not present. Shortly after completing these stories, the men in the study completed a written survey to indicate whether or not they felt irony was being utilized.
The researchers also took the opportunity to quiz the participants on the issue of empathy. In the same set of questions that addressed irony, the men were asked whether they felt a certain degree of empathy towards the situation and characters involved in the stories they had read. The results showed that the alcoholic men were consistently unable to relate on an empathetic level. They were also unable to detect irony when it was present.
The study was carried out, in part, by Simona Amenta of Milano-Bicocca University. She felt that many studies regarding alcoholism have not fully addressed the communication breakdown that appears to happen when alcohol is abused consistently over time. Amenta stated that some research has been done which addresses physical and communication crossovers, such as body language, but that no studies have fully examined the emotional degradation that can occur.
Alcoholism is considered a major issue in the United States, especially among younger people. It is thought that as much as half of the total population describe themselves as frequent drinkers. The health related issues related to alcoholism are vast, with the liver toxicity mortality rate reaching over 15,000. Another 24,000 deaths occur due to myriad alcohol-induced reasons. Physical issues are not the only health problems that are well documented regarding alcohol – emotional distress is a frequent complaint from alcoholics and those close to alcoholics. Two out of every 3 personal assaults recorded between sexual partners is thought to be related to alcohol consumption.
This new study aims to put a brighter focus on the emotional challenges that alcoholics face.