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Date: 2003
Abstract: Background: Jewish culturally supported beliefs may discourage drinking and drunkenness as ways of socialising and coping with stress. Thus Jewish men under stress may be relatively more likely to become depressed, and less likely to use and abuse alcohol. This study is the first qualitative comparison of Jews and Protestants, men and women. It examines whether alcohol-related beliefs are consistent with the alcohol-depression hypothesis, i.e. that positive beliefs about alcohol use and effects are associated with high alcohol use and low depression. Material and discussion: A thematic (interpretive phenomenological) analysis on open-ended question responses, from 70 Jews and 91 Protestants, and on semi-structured interviews with five Jews and four Protestants, identified three salient themes: the importance of retaining self-control; the pleasures of losing inhibitions; and the relations of alcohol-related behaviour to identity. Compared to Protestants, Jews described alcohol-related behaviour as threatening to self-control, loss of inhibition as unenjoyable and dangerous and distinguished between the kinds of drinking behaviours appropriate for Jews and others. Sub-themes for Protestant men were denial that drinking threatens self-control, and appropriateness of going to the pub. Conclusions: The themes identified are not measurable using published research instruments. Alcohol-related behaviour may be a feature of Jewish identity. The beliefs identified are consistent with the alcohol-depression hypothesis.
Date: 2000
Date: 1997
Abstract: This paper examined stress among two groups of orthodox Jews suggested to differ in the strength of the boundary of their religious group. Comparisons were made between the two groups, and with urban and rural groups studied by other researchers. Proportions of boundary-maintenance events (events whose threat had been caused or exacerbated by Jewishness) and of severe events, and proportions and rates of regular, irregular and disruptive events were examined. Boundary-maintenance events were higher among the more religiously orthodox affiliated group, and among whom religious observance was indeed reported to be higher. It was suggested that conditions of higher boundary maintenance would be associated with higher rates and proportions of regular events and with lower rates and proportions of irregular and disruptive events. Generally, the analyses supported this expectation. Boundary-maintenance events themselves were somewhat less severe, though not less likely to be irregular or disruptive than other events. Depression was shown to be unrelated to boundary-maintenance events and (surprisingly) unrelated to contextual threat when the effects of irregularity-disruption were controlled. Depression was, however, strongly related to irregular and disruptive events. The results are compared with those of related work, and suggest that the general lowering effect of affiliation to a religious group may be partly explained by the effects of boundary maintenance, which involves stress, but of a less depressogenic kind than the disruptive stress associated with conditions of low/no boundary maintenance. The findings have implications for understanding the relations between culture and mental disorder.
Date: 2003