In 1849 Swedish physician Magnuss Huss coined the term “alcoholism.” Huss associated a wide variety of symptoms with this disease, with the result that everything from short-term drunkenness to chronic alcohol consumption could be considered a form of alcoholism. Despite this ambiguity, by 1880 public health officials throughout Europe felt comfortable
discussing alcoholism in the same way as cholera or tuberculosis, and asserted that the disease had been pathologically defined. Comparison between British and French discourses in this period, however, reveals that understandings of healthy and unhealthy alcohol consumption were tied to the specific settings in which public health officials developed and deployed them. A close reading of these discourses as they considered women and their consumption of
alcohol in Great Britain and France highlights the varying and often contradictory conclusions that emerged from national debates over drink and its possible evils. This paper will consider the distinct presentations of alcoholic women and treatment programs offered specifically for women in both national contexts in the pre-World War I era. It will highlight the ways in which concerns over population growth became tied up in discussions of alcoholism, and the
importance of gender in determining the line between acceptable and unacceptable consumption patterns.
"Under Control? Alcohol and Drug Regulation, Past and Present" conference was held at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 21-23rd June 2013. Under Control? was supported by the Alcohol Research UK; Bowling Green State University; the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, Brock University (Faculty of Applied Health Sciences); the Society for the Study…