Does drinking alcohol remove the overall integrity of a person?

 

I was recently accused of having lost integrity for #drinking alcohol.

I decided to dive into this subject matter a little deeper. Could it be true that my integrity is compromised by my tendency to drink alcohol on many evenings of the week?

In order to assess this I decided to first gain the correct definition of the word “integrity”

The Oxford English dictionary provides the explanation as:

 

“Integrity”

 

The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

‘a gentleman of complete integrity’
So can being drunk affect my honesty and morality? Is it possible that my core beliefs change when I am under the influence of alcohol? I decided to Google it!

 

Here was the first thing I saw……

 

 

I knew my friends first reaction would be “Oh I am sure you could find someone on the internet to support you when you say alcohol does not affect honesty “

 

So I decided to read from multiple respected sources. 

 

I wanted the real truth on this matter. Because my integrity matters to me! 

 

The overwhelming consensus from the various articles I read suggest that alcohol reduces inhibitions. Because we care less about what we say or express under the influence of alcohol. We know when we are making alcohol related mistakes, the difference is that we do not care! A leading online addictions centre known as www.rehabs.com delivers this information:

Rehabs.com tells us:
They say the truth comes out when you’re drunk.

As it turns out, published research proves that statement is surprisingly accurate. When drinking alcohol, the tongue is freed up to say exactly what is in a person’s heart. As blood alcohol levels continue to climb, the responses become increasingly primitive and hostile. In the past, it’s been easy to blame drunk and disturbing behaviors on alcohol, but that’s not cutting it anymore.

Simply put, researchers were able to show that alcohol consumption does not prevent self-control – it just makes people care less about the consequences.

 

 This is interesting.
So as we go through life our neocortex (the part of our brain responsible for decision making) functions correctly and allows us to make decisions in a responsible way – according to our basic morality and principles. We make practical decisions in communication based on systems of acceptable social norms.  But when we drink alcohol we care less and speak exactly what is on our minds without fear of judgement or reprisal.
It therefore naturally follows that if a person’s morality and basic principles are twisted by personal trauma and their view on life is dominated by this basic dysfunctionality, then alcohol will allow this side of the person to emerge more aggressively.
Rehabs.com also offers this information:

 

the brain’s neocortex is responsible for evaluating circumstances and making sound decisions. In the presence of alcohol, however, this feature no longer functions properly. The resulting intoxication causes serious and often disturbing behavioral changes.

 

 The friend who charged me with losing integrity while drunk was in fact communicating via an exchange of emails.
I was in fact under the influence of alcohol for much of this exchange and so I had an excellent opportunity to asses how alcohol was affecting my neocortex. How was my decision making changed while communicating in this way?
I discovered that my content was in fact good. I did not disagree with myself in anyway when reading back the body of my points and reference to past events. However; there was one change;

I WAS USING CAPS MORE,

  I WAS ALSO CHOOSING TO MAKE PARTS BIGGER THAN OTHER PARTS TO

EMPHASISE A POINT.

 

I wAS TYPING LESS EFFICIENTLY WITH caps and REGULAR TEXT GETTING JUMBLED Occasionally.

The larger text was me shouting! This does confirm that my communication was affected by intoxication. My neocortex was not kicking in and allowing me to shield my true feelings. My true feelings were anger. The one psychological trait I struggle with. I do not suffer fools gladly.

My own personal life traumas did in fact leave me a very angry person for a long time but counselling and personal investigation has allowed me to get that under control. My moral and ethical thinking now has a firm belief system in place that allows me to conform to society’s norms and keep that under wraps. I am a much calmer person than I used to be as a result of understanding the core reasons for my anger.  However when I am drunk these emotions can surface in moments of debate. I never get violent or go crazy but I can definitely enter a new level of assertion in making a point.

So to come back to the original question…. Does drinking alcohol remove the overall integrity of a person?

I believe this largely depends on a person’s unique neurological situation.

Lets do a hypothetical study of two personality types…..

 

Person A:  is more repressed, has more hidden emotional dysfunctionality. For this reason they have had more learning to do in terms of how to behave normally. They are likely to have gone through early life making more mistakes than a more balanced person because dysfunctional emotion has played a much larger part in their human interactions. They are more likely to have offended people, said the wrong thing, reacted in unreasonable ways. They are also more likely to have formed deep biassed opinions based on hidden resentments, anger, hurt or rejection etc…

Person B: Is not so repressed and has largely come to terms with who they are, why they tick the way they do, understand how past traumas have affected them and have as a result formed sound moral and ethical principles as a result of such study. Driven by rationality. For this reason they use less of their neocortex in decision making. Their thinking is based on core beliefs and principles. They may well have also made mistakes in early life however this person has grown past those mistakes and genuinely become a person who conducts themselves according to  beliefs processed from real personal understanding.

So  would alcohol affect these two people in the same way? 

 

To Answer this we will take some valuable information supplied by Drugs.ie – Drug and alcohol support

 

Alcohol and our moods and feelings

Alcohol and Mood

The effects on mood of alcohol may be used to allow us to:

  • Express our feelings
  • Mask our feelings
  • Avoid our feelings

Expressing feelings through alcohol

For any man, woman or adolescent, who by their nature or by result of their upbringing is held back in their ability to express true feelings or is maybe not very skilled , alcohol will allow that expression. With all inhibitions gone, an individual can suddenly be witty, playful and outgoing. All the behaviours that their shyness normally prevents.

The person lets themselves go,

They can laugh and chat more, express opinions better and argue a case. They can sing, dance and not be on guard over their behaviour. They care less.

Or…. alcohol may allow a person to reveal a long held personal grievance or sorrow that is very real and runs deep. Something they badly need to talk about. This issue might otherwise never break the surface of normal consciousness and just result in a person repressing that part of their life. Instead they may only ever express this indirectly with moodiness,  grumpiness & always being negative.

Kuntsche E, Knibbe R, Gmel G, Engels R. (2005). Why do young people drink? A review of drinking motives. Clin Psychol Rev. 2005 Nov;25(7):841-61.

 So alcohol could indeed affect person A and person B differently. it would seem to depend on what our hypothetical subjects are repressing. Who normally relies on the neocortex to get through their day?

With person A;  hidden resentments and inner turmoil not normally expressed are far more likely to come to the surface and reveal themselves under the influence of alcohol. Without the neocortex kicking in this person is more likely to become self absorbed, angry, cry or even go into a rage!

With person B:  alcohol is less likely to bring change in personality. Their core beliefs are largely dominant when they are not under the influence of alcohol. They use less of their neocortex to regulate inhibitions because inhibitions a largely dealt with! They normally bare their soul and speak on a genuine level without repression. This type of person is more likely under the influence of alcohol to remain stable in their communications, stay in touch with their intellect without interference from dysfunctional feelings.

Science backs up the conclusions of this Hypotheses

 Psychology researchers at the University of Missouri in Columbia, USA   published a great study in Addiction Research & Theory which set out to prove academically that there are many definite ways to be drunk, to a  logical, scientifically-based conclusion.
This well planned study, which involved 374 undergraduates at a Midwest university, referred to literature and pop culture in order to reach the conclusion that there are primarily four types of drinkers: the Ernest Hemingway, the Mary Poppins, the Mr. Hyde, & the Nutty Professor.

 

Ernest Hemingway’s

Named after the writer who once publicly boasted that he could easily “drink hells any amount of whiskey without getting drunk,” Hemingways do not exhibit any major notable changes in their personality when they transition from being sober to being drunk, the study concluded.

 

Mary Poppins

These drinkers will exhibit the “practically perfect in every way” description that Mary Poppins gives to herself in the 1964 blockbusting film.  they are normally outgoing types of people who just get happier, sweeter and nicer under the influence of alcohol.

 

Mr. Hyde

The evil-twin drinker.  According to the study, these people are”particularly less responsible, less intellectual, and more hostile when under the influence of alcohol.”

The Nutty Professor

named after the chemically-modified academic with a split personality as immortalized by actor Eddie Murphy. The study concludes that they are naturally introverts but shed their inhibitions with great vigor after drinking, demonstrating a more flashy and sociable side.

 

 

Final conclusion


After studying the back and forth of emails between myself and my friend during our debate, I was able to reliably conclude that I am indeed an Ernest Hemingway!  Phew!!!! 

I am without doubt the type of person who has a strong and reliable core of fundamental moral, ethical and principled beliefs based on self honesty. When I drink alcohol I do not lose this core mental structure. I did conclude that my expressions can change. I can become more determined and louder in my delivery. The anger dysfunctionality is more likely to emerge,  however the reliability of my content is not affected. My memory and relation to past events seems to be well intact also. I did check my memory on certain events with the analysis of dates and cross referencing with witness testimony and found that to be good.

If as the Oxford dictionary states “integrity”  is:  The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” Then the consumption of alcohol does not in fact strip me of the core mental structure that allows me to be an integral person. 

I have reliably concluded that #alcohol does not remove my #integrity!

 

It would seem that Alcohol serves as a truth serum and actually serves to reveal what is repressed in a person!

Are you repressed?

How does alcohol effect you?

 

Please do let me know by leaving a comment below!  I look forward to reading it!!

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