Find over 25,000 psychological definitions

Jellinek’s alcoholism species

a categorization of types (or “species”) of alcoholism defined in 1960 by U.S. physiologist Elvin M. Jellinek (1890–1963). Alpha alcoholism is characterized by undisciplined drinking that disturbs the person’s interpersonal and family relationships and work life, with a reliance on the effects of alcohol to relieve physical or emotional pain, but without a loss of control or an inability to abstain. Beta alcoholism is characterized by serious medical complications (e.g., liver damage, gastritis, nutritional deficiency) associated with undisciplined drinking but does not involve physical or psychological dependence. Gamma alcoholism is characterized by physical and psychological dependence, tolerance, complete loss of control over drinking, and withdrawal symptoms if use is suspended. Jellinek considered this type to be the predominant form of alcoholism in the United States. Delta alcoholism is similar to gamma alcoholism but is distinguished by the person’s inability to abstain, as opposed to complete loss of control over drinking. Epsilon alcoholism is characterized by periodic drinking episodes or binges interspersed with dry periods lasting weeks or months.

Browse dictionary by letter

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Psychology term of the day

June 18th 2024



n. a type of involuntary movement caused by a rapid succession of alternate muscular contractions and relaxations. Although some forms of clonus, such as hiccups, are considered normal, most such movements are abnormal; for example, clonus occurs as part of a tonic–clonic seizure. More severe forms are associated with spinal cord damage, poisoning (e.g., from strychnine), or an infection (e.g., syphilis).