Alcoholism.Edgar and his parents : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

Can anyone help me find information on alcoholism/drug abuse by Edgar and/or his parents? I am an alcohol counselor and know that alcoholism runs in families. On a paper I am writing I would like to prove that. I thank you for any help. Sharlene

-- Anonymous, March 05, 2002


generally alchoholism runs in families because if the kids see a parent do something, they will follow. thats how you get potty trained. there are, however, many cases which this does not occur (such as the "children" of homosexual parents have a better chance of being heterosexual than kids who grow up among heterosexuals - this is, of course, based on the assumption that they did not have outside influence)

besides, Poe was born 1/19/1809. both his parents died when he was two (December 1811), so your search for Poe's alchoholism and its relationship to his parents is pointless. two years is not enoughf or a child to develop alchoholism at that age.

an interesting fact, however. Poe registerd in the army as Edgar A Perry, and was in West Point military academy, but was court- marshalled and expelled for disobeying orders (he showed up for a parade naked).

Poe was an alchohol (err... forgot the term. he was addicted to alchohol), and he died Oct 7, 1849 (living 40 years, 5 months, 19 days, give or take a few hours. yes, I know, I have no life, but thats okay)

-- Anonymous, March 05, 2002


Currently, the search for a specific gene that would render an individual predisposed to alcoholism has not been identified and there is nothing beyond statistical research to suggest that this particular gene exists. It is this same statistical research that does suggest that the risk of developing a dependence on alcohol is higher in families where alcohol is habitually abused than in families where it is not abused. However, the question remains as to whether this is a learned behavior from environmental influence or whether the behavior is encoded in the inherited genetic makeup. The two most significant key words here are suggest and risk..... nothing proven to a known certainty. A possibility, perhaps even a probability, but clearly not a certainty.

Would Edgar have fallen into the statistical bell curve? Perhaps. His father was known to have abused alcohol but there is little beyond speculation to suggest that it was a habitual dependence. There is no evidence at all to support the contention that his grandfather was similarly disposed to drink and very little is known of his great- grandfather at all. From this, one would be hard pressed to conclude that a father who abused alcohol would constitute a "run" in the family.

But then, one issue to consider was why our ancestors in the 19th century consumed alcohol at all. Clearly, the church taught temperance, encouraged sobriety and preached loudly against the evils of alcohol. Temperance Societies were the rage and many of these societies were rather militant in their beliefs. The primary reason was that the bulk of the water supply was untreated and often unpalatable if not laced with the latest viral infection or plague from European immigrants. At least beer, wine and liquor, while brimming with their own unique causes and effects, were typically safer to drink and came with their own disinfectant.

As for Edgar himself, yes... he was known to have abused alcohol. Yet, this abuse was cyclic in that while there were long periods of what appear to be repeated binge drinking, there were also long periods of sobriety. So... was Edgar Poe an alcoholic in the sense that he had developed a physical or psychological dependence of alcohol? Frankly, the evidence is, at best, speculative, the contemporary testimony is conflicting and the facts are simply... not known.

Incidentally, while Edgar was expelled from West Point for disobeying orders, he merely chose not to attend classes or church services and refused to participate in required activities. The notion that he showed up for a parade unadorned is absurd.


-- Anonymous, March 06, 2002

His father and brother came to ruin and death after disappointment/drink. Whta we are talking about is emotional tendency inheritance. You can see Poe having some of his mother and his father in him. The effect of one glass of alcohol, the excitement and pleasure and intensity seems indicative of a high suceptibility. One biographer noted America swam in cheap liquor and it was easier to get a free drink than food. Poe and Baudelaire died when attempting to get off the wagon, most probably because it was already too late, but perhaps due to the infections in such things as tea, water etc. I think Poe inherited an emotional inheritance and a high sensitivity to alcohol. His destructive gambling habits(modest in quantity here too) indicates an addictive personality.How MUCH any of the Poe's drank is problemtatic, but it did not have a psotive influence on their lives. Poe was giving ear to the Temperance people in his last year.

-- Anonymous, March 10, 2002

Poe was only an alchoholic because he felt he needed it to help write his stories. In fact it did. Only a glass or 2 got him drunk so he easily got drunk many times. He tried to stop, but so many people he loved were dying (his wife,parents,relatives,other engaged ppl to him) and he got depressed and got drunk again. So, he tried to but then peer pressure made him start up again.He didn't know his parents for long (maybe 3 yrs. old) so I don't think that's why he was addicted to alchohal.

-- Anonymous, March 11, 2002

Edgar Allen Poe wasnt a alchoholic at all. In the elizibethan era the thought of alchoholism did not exist. Everyone drank large quantitys of alchohal becasue it was safe. Edgar was another one of those people. He wrote in bars, and while in there had a few drinks. And it wasnt dependence, it was convienience.

-- Anonymous, April 17, 2003

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