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Three Realities. Women in different phases of drug abuse - a social psychological investigation

Publiceringsår: 1998
Språk: Svenska
Sidor: 264
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling
Förlag: Department of Psychology


The purpose of this study was to systematically examine the social, cultural and psychological situation of a group of women with drug addiction, and to gain an understanding of it. Different theoretical perspectives were utilized in efforts to understand and explain why some young women start using drugs. The attempt was made to integrate a social psychological perspective with a perspective based on women`s research and on personality psychology. The study concerns an empirical investigation of a group of 34 women treated at the Drug Dependence Unit of St. Lars Hospital in Lund, Sweden. The women were interviewed regarding their social circumstances, their interpersonal relations and their intrapsychic state. In addition, 19 of them were investigated by means of DMTm (Defence Mechanism Technique, modified). The women had abused morphine and/or heroin for many years. Most of them had been prostitutes. The majority had been involved in criminal activities. On the basis of the theoretical framework, it appeared fruitful to analyze the construction of gender and identity within this context in the following three terms: (1) the current social and culturally related context in which the women lived, including aspects of power, gender and of time, (2) internalised versus rival norms and values the women regarded as relevant to them and (3) personality strategies serving as defences against a tachistoscopically induced threat. It was found that all the women in the study had a similar experience of a traumatic childhood and an adolescence in which their parents had addiction problems, divorce, frequently break-up of the home. The results of the interview indicate that those women who had overcome their drug addiction were able to seek help from others and to use this help in a constructive way. Their ability to utilze and create a constructive network was important in their process of constructing a new identity. The results of the DMTm-tes indicate that the women appeared to represent a given step in a line of psychological development involving the process og gaining freedom from drugs. Two fundamental questions are posed: What relevance does feminist research have to drug addiction research? What can that theoretical frame of reference contribute to an understanding of the women in the study? The therapeutical implication of the interview and the personality results obtained as well as quetsions of the constructing of female identity are discussed.


Lund University
  • Mona Eliasson (Prof.)


  • Psychology
  • gender
  • Applied and experimental psychology
  • social psychology
  • personality
  • drug addiction
  • Tillämpad och experimentell psykologi
  • women
  • DMTm


  • ISBN: 91-628-3047-3
  • ISRN: LUSADG/SATP-98/1026--SE

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