Revista de Antropologia
Print version ISSN 0034-7701
CAMPOS, Edemilson Antunes de. Contágio, doença e evitação em uma associação de ex-bebedores: o caso dos Alcoólicos Anônimos. Rev. Antropol. [online]. 2005, vol.48, n.1, pp.315-361. ISSN 0034-7701. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0034-77012005000100008.
The major aim of this article is to analyse the construction of the notion of alcoholic illness in an association of ex-drinkers: the Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). Basead on an ethnographic research carried with members of the Sapopemba A.A. group (located in a neighbourhood in the outskirts of S. Paulo City, Brazil) and family members, the role of this agency is stressed as a privileged place for anthropological study on alcoholism from an emic perspective, i.e., such as it is lived and managed by those who recognise themselves as "recovering alcoholic patients". At the same time, the possibility of "contagion" of the alcoholic illness is stressed, linked to representations built on alcohol and alcoholism. In fact, alcoholism is understood as a physical and moral illness which, besides hitting the person considered as ill, also affects the set of social relationships - both family and professional - in which he/she is involved. As a consequence, the A.A. therapeutic model is analysed as an "avoidance system" which allows the alcoholic person to build an order of senses inside which the symbolic construction of the experience of the illness is operated, the purpose of which is to enable control of the alcoholic illness and to recuperate social bonds both within the family and at work - that got lost at the times of active alcoholism.
Keywords : Alcoholics Anonymous; alcoholism; illness; avoidance system; contagions cultural theory.