Stigma on Alcoholism: A Modest Proposal

Erving Goffman: "Spoiled Identity"

It seems to me — and, incidentally, it has seemed to me for a long time — that a key shortcoming in much of the prevailing research and thought surrounding the subject of the stigma on alcoholism stems from a failure to distinguish clearly between the moral and social definition placed upon, on the one hand, the “active alcoholic” and, on the other, that placed upon the successfully abstaining or “recovering alcoholic.”

What I have to offer about this shortcoming and its implications, below, will I’m sure strike more than a few readers as restating the obvious.  Yet, and surprisingly, sometimes even obvious-seeming propositions, when some of their implications are extracted, can generate new conclusions and a counterintuitive perspective on an old topic.  That’s what I have in mind for this post on stigma.  Let’s see how it works out.

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