Alcohol and Aggression - the Missing Link?
Increasing attention is being paid to the question of what exactly is the nature of the association between alcohol and aggression. There is certainly a need to better understand how some patterns of drinking intersect with some patterns of violence.
A desire for some form of intoxication appears to be part of the common personality of human nature, one of its universal constants. The cultural manifestations of this drive are diverse, but all societies, tribes, and civilizations on earth have a means of achieving intoxication, whether by using hallucinogenic drugs or by ritual dancing, drumming, jumping or chanting.
Like intoxication, aggression is also a universal feature of human nature. It can be found among all societies, and the aggression of young males is a constant feature of human behavior. But, equally, all cultures include socially sanctioned methods of suppressing aggression and expressing or releasing it. We cannot escape the fact that aggression, violence, and intoxication are all part of our being as humans.
As we have seen, alcohol can be a facilitator for social bonding. The variations in expressions of drunkenness, when and where it is characterized by either violence or passivity, are dependent on the need for bonding, the characteristics of the bonded group itself, and environmental conditions. Many people say that they are just “social drinkers,” consuming alcohol merely to facilitate sociability or social bonding. In the vast majority of cases, such drinking is peaceful, amiable, and inclusive of strangers. However, bonding implies grouping; grouping implies developing a group identity; a group identity implies territoriality; territory needs defending. While drinking is normally viewed as a socially inclusive activity, it can just as easily be a vehicle for exclusion and eventually violence depending on how much we drink and how we are affected by it.
Our violent past in our evolution has,