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Family Ideals in the 1950s: The Shaping of Addiction How hiding alcoholism and abuse from the home in the 1950s helped to shape the onset of addictive behavior in children.

Family-Ideals-in-the-1950s-The-Shaping-of-AddictionThe baby boomer generation has struggled with addiction at alarming rates, and there are a handful of theories as to why this may be. Baby boomers were born after the Second World War. Their parents had made it through the great depression, a horrendous war and were becoming stable and secure in their newly established middle class lifestyle.

Enter the introduction of the television, complete with TV shows that showed idealized interpretations of the American family. Much in the way reality television now is thought to provide a glimpse into people’s lives and shape how the viewer behaves, thinks of themselves, and interprets those around them, the classic 1950 sitcom was watched with an unmistakable assumption of truth.

The families in these television shows were always happy. There was no confrontation or arguing, kids only found themselves in minor scrapes and the Mom and Dad loved each other and it showed through a sense of coziness that was never outright sexual. You can see these visions of perfection yourself by watching reruns of shows like “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father knows Best.”

The trouble with these television shows is that they aren’t true—and they never were. Even in the idealized 1950s and 1960s, families had their drama. There were arguments, depression and losses that no one in the family knew how to cope with. In the face of this internalized reality that came from the television set, no-one knew it was okay to let that out. Emotions became bottled up, and often only let out through some sort of bottle when one was alone. Alcoholism and abuse grew during this time period, but all behind closed doors.

As the children of these families came of age, they began to realize that life was not the perfect scenario their parents had painted for them. But unfortunately, this generation was not provided with the tools to recognize or cope with that reality. This resulted in a growing group of young adults who were restless, unhappy and frustrated—and they were looking for a way to cope with those feelings in as quick of a fix as possible.

Attempting to live up to a certain image requires you to deny your true self, and this generally leads to shame and frustration. A generation of children grew up angry at the denial of their true selves, yet still felt alienated from their feelings. Unable to communicate their emotions or effectively deal with their feelings, they searched for methods to escape. All of these traits contributed to making the developing baby boomer generation highly susceptible to the throws of addiction and addictive behaviors.

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