Impact of E.M. Jellinek on alcohol studies organizing as a distinct professional field

Gabor Kelemen, University of Pécs
Monika Márk, University of Pécs

E.M. Jellinek was the connecting link between psychiatric nosology and the recovery movement. Jellinek brought the discourse of recovery from alcoholism in a form that many professionals from different fields were able to embrace. Alcoholism studies don’t speak only to a specific community, but open a dialogue practically with the whole mankind. Whilst the tales of most famous scholars of the modern era have been well documented, the history of Jellinek is very poorly and distortedly known. The aim of this presentation is to discuss Jellinek’s impact on evolution the recovery agenda and alcohol studies on one hand, to show the historical roots of his scientific and policy- making stagecrafting including his socio-historical, cultural and intergenerational legacy. We reflect on Jellinek’s main scientific results: “phases of alcohol addiction” and “Jellinek formula” for calculation the prevalence of alcoholism. This lore has been giving scientific credence to the disease concept of alcoholism. Authors show that these taken-for-granted assumptions are based on faulty generalisation and forged facts. We also discuss the beneficial and adverse effects of the medicalisation of alcoholism which was the first illness in history accepted to be a disease by voting. Jellinek, a third-generation member of a mushrooming self-made man family, a superfluous person during the Hungarian Communist Revolution of 1919 and over the White Terror followed it. Jellinek had been a passive witness of the revolution, which devoured its own children, and became a cunning antihero in the following period of moral void by 1920. He was hidden from view for ten years before appearing in the USA. Jellinek had a special resourcefulness in integrating playful, speculative capacity with specialised and technological approach. Authors conclude that Jellinek’s truth is not medical but a recovery oriented one with an aim towards transforming lifestyle, identity and intergenerational transmission.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 2