Emotional Cutoff In Women Who Abuse Substances

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Virginia Tech

This exploratory study was based upon Bowen Family Systems theory and investigated emotional cutoff in women (n = 168) who entered a substance abuse treatment program. Three questions were explored: First, the degree of emotional cutoff in this sample was compared to a non-clinical sample of women. Secondly, the relationship was explored between the variable of emotional cutoff and the following variables: substance abuse variables, individual psychological functioning variables, and marital and family relationship variables. Finally, the relationship was explored between dropout from substance abuse treatment and emotional cutoff.Results indicate that the degree of emotional cutoff was significantly higher in this clinical sample of women who abused substances than in two comparison samples - one was a non-clinical sample of women balancing multiple roles and responsibilities and one mixed sample of divorced men and women. Emotional cutoff was found to have a significant positive relationship with the following variables: behaviors characteristic of substance abusers, behaviors of a highly defensive person, symptoms of depression, anxiety, hostility, psychoticism, somatization, obsessive compulsive disorder, interpersonal sensitivity, and a global assessment of psychological dysfunction. Emotional cutoff was found to have a significant negative relationship with denial of substance abuse. No significant relationship was found between emotional cutoff and marital satisfaction, health or distress in family functioning, dropout from treatment, severity of substance abuse, and symptoms of paranoia or phobia. These results have implications for further research based on Bowen theory and the understanding of the emotional process of addicted family systems.

emotional cutoff, family systems, female substance abusers, addiction