John Libbey Eurotext

Gériatrie et Psychologie Neuropsychiatrie du Vieillissement


Le couple âgé et les conduites d’alcoolisation : analyse systémique Volume 20, issue 1, Mars 2022


1 Laboratoire de psychopathologie et processus de Santé (LPPS), Institut de Psychologie – Université Paris-Descartes, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
* Correspondance : A. Moscato

During the aging process, mental work requires many adjustments at a time when the methods of compensation or reorganisation may not be as effective as in the past. During this time, alcoholism may well intervene with and disrupt the functioning of the couple and the family. Where alcoholism is present, interdependence of the couple induces a specific relationship and a behavior pattern in both partners. In the functioning of the couple illustrated by a clinical case this notion is apparent within a phenomenon of acceptable pseudo-complementarity functioning where the behavior generates both suffering and spin-off benefits. This behavior contributes to the homeostasis of the couple and therefore to its continuation while also favouring the durability of alcoholism. It induces a different generational positioning, a break with the codes governing behavior within the couple, and it also leads to a tendency to infantilization. Moreover, the fear of losing the object of one's investment drives the dependency system. In these conditions, the couple, who need to anticipate this loss, generate a vicious circle which leads to the alienation of each of the partners. They adopt a deprivation avoidance behavior by establishing dependency, a preventive and paradoxical treatment for separation: “so not to lose you, I am constantly in need”. This behavior is influenced by the potential distancing of one of the partners due to their serious excesses or the staggering sense of separation associated with aging.