Alcohol, disinhibition and resilience

Maybe I should get out a bit more, but I’ve just spent the evening listening to Radio 4 while making bunting for our harvest supper this weekend (Ambridge comes to Queen’s Park…).

Anyway, very much worth listening to on Iplayer if you get a spare half hour or so was a short lecture by Kate Fox, a social anthropologist specialising in alcohol use.  She proposes, backing up her ideas with fascinating social experiments, that in ‘temperance/ambivalence’ societies like ours, the US, Australia and Denmark, (as opposed to nations like Italy and France) we have a dysfunctional drinking culture.  She showed that when people think they are drinking alcohol, they behave in a way that conforms to the cultural norms in the society.  In our case those cultural expectation are to indulge in disinhibited behaviour, becoming violent or overtly sexualised.  She says that alcohol doesn’t actually cause this behaviour but that it is a cultural construct.  To listen again click here.

A programme earlier in the evening looked at the Romanian orphanage babies, adopted 21 years ago, and what made some of them resilient enough to recover from their appalling early treatment. Claudia Hammond reports on how scientists have tracked their progress.  To listen click here.