his Life

His Childhood in Kai's Own Words

Last summer I walked to the old kolchoz north of Alavoinen [in Karelia, part of Russia now]. It was a nice walk.  From the 2 ½ summers that I lived in Alavoinen as a child I remember the beautiful song of the larks in the air over the fields behind the house.  My mother had a garden behind the house and my sister and I used to pull up carrots and pick the peas and eat them on the spot. …  There are many memories from that time.  Some may seem a bit odd, like the one when an old woman who was picking potatoes in the field behind the house was preparing them to eat by heating them in a fire-pit in the ground. I remember how she smiled and gave me one of the potatoes.  I think that made me aware of the “goodness of strangers” or “random acts of goodness” - goodness for its own sake.  Perhaps that explains why I remember it so well.

I lived in Alavoinen for close to 3 years and started school at the age of 5.  My grandfather was a “minister” in the temporary Karelian government set up in 1919 when there was an attempt to free Karelia from the bolsheviks.  It was set up in the town of Olonets/Aunuksenlinna, but it did not last more than a few weeks.  Anyway, my father at a very young age took part in those battles and during the war of 1941 - 44 he was allowed to bring his family to his native village, Alavoinen.  My mother managed the post office on the 2nd floor of 'Teremok'.  Several older people still remember her and how friendly she was.  … We left for Finland in June 1944 with the last train carrying wounded from the front.

I lived in Sweden between the ages of 7-14 and later visited it during the summers because my mother lived there while I was studying in Finland.   


Working Life

Kai Pernanen received his MA in Philosophy and Politices Licentiate degree in Sociology at the University of Helsinki. Finland.  Most of his research career has been focused on substance abuse and criminal behaviour.  This research was carried out in 5 countries, most recently at the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Studies in Oslo, Norway and the Department of Social Medicine at Uppsala University, Sweden. Prior to that he worked at the Addiction Research Foundation in Toronto, Ontario and for a short time on the 67th floor at the World Trade Center in New York.   Kai is the author of numerous scientific articles, reports and a book entitled 'Alcohol in Human Violence' published in 1991.

From the Editorial Review for 'Alcohol in Human Violence':

Despite enormous research and media interest in both the effects of alcohol consumption and the causes of violent behavior, little theoretically integrated empirical work has been published on the actual relationship between the two. Reporting on the most ambitious field study undertaken on naturally occurring anger and aggression--the first one to examine the specific contribution of alcohol consumption to different levels of everyday violence--this volume bridges a gap in the literature and provides illuminating new insights.

The empirical data in ALCOHOL IN HUMAN VIOLENCE originate from a multimethod study of experiences of threats and physical violence among the general population of a Canadian city; analyses of all incoming reports of violent crime; and observations systematically carried out in local bars and taverns. The book combines quantitative analyses with qualitative reasoning to examine the processes that connect drinking and violence. Confounding conventional wisdom that assumes a straightforward cause-and-effect relationship, the book shows that there are a number of psychological and social variables that are as important as biochemical and neuropharmacological reactions. Examining these factors, abundant data is presented on the nature of violence--from pushing and slapping to the use of a weapon--and the extent of injury received when the victims are men, women, of different ages, in different locations, and in various relationships. Throughout, numerous anecdotal illustrations from the study and the news media highlight points of central theoretical concern.