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A Research in Marriage

G. V. Hamilton, M.D.
New York: Albert & Charles Boni, 1929
First edition


"Kenneth has made date with Hamilton for me," O'Neill noted in his diary shortly before he stopped drinking. "A ray of hope amid general sick despair."

Hamilton was Dr. Gilbert V. Hamilton, a psychiatrist with a commission from a scientific organization to research the sex life and problems of married people. For more than a year now he had been developing his program through the systematic questioning of an eventual total of one hundred husbands and one hundred wivesno a hundred couples, since only the wife or the husband was involved in some instances. Although sexual matters were his central concern, Hamilton's quizzing covered virtually every important aspect, past and present, of his subjects' lives, for his investigation was "in a measure a study of the child in the adult." He believed that "almost from the day of birth, the state, society and most persons (including our parents) whose lives intimately touch our own, unwittingly conspire to make us bad an stupid when we grow up."

The Macgowans were part of the survey, and Kenneth thought that Dr. Hamilton might be albe to help the O'Neills with their drinking problem and the conflict between them. All the participants were entitled, after their questioning was complete, to a reasonable number of free consultations with Hamilton concerning their marital and other personal problems.

In 1929 the psychiatrist published A Research in Marriage, in which he listed the questions, gave a detailed breakdown through charts of all the replies, and summarized his findings. (Acknowledging him as a forerunner, the Kinsey Report called his book one of the few "studies [of sex] which are scientific, based on more or less complete case histories.") Since the book never names the people in the survey, it is impossible to tell from the charts who gave a particular replyimpossible, that is, in all case but one. In this instance fifteen men, answering questions about friction between their parents, said that their mother was chiefly at fault; some blamed her "scolding" and "nagging," others, her "nervous instability," while oneundoubtedly O'Neillreplied that his mother's "drug habit" had been the primary cause of discord within the family.

In all, for both the sex-research interviews and the consultations afterward, Eugene saw the psychiatrist over a period of only six weeks; yet in this time he arrived, almost miraculously, at a major turning point in his life: he resolved never to drink again. Except for several isolated falls from grace, he was to remain abstinent the rest of his days.

Sheaffer, O'Neill Son and Artist


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