Understanding Violence

Understanding Violence

Understanding Violence

Understanding Violence

Synopsis

"Heightened public awareness of and concern about what is widely perceived as a recent explosion of violence, on a spectrum from domestic abuse to street crime, has motivated behavioral and social scientists to cast new light on old questions. Many hypotheses have been offered. In this book, Elizabeth Kandel Englander sorts, structures, and evaluates them. She draws on contemporary research and theory in varied fields - sociology, clinical psychology, psychiatry, social work, neuropsychology, behavioral genetics, child development, and education - to present a uniquely balanced, integrated, and readable summary of what we currently know about the causes and effects of violence. Throughout, she emphasizes the necessity of distinguishing among different types of violent behavior and of realizing that nature and nurture interact in human development. There are no simple answers, and many well-accepted "facts" must be challenged. Such controversial issues as physical punishment and violent television programming receive special attention." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

This book was born on a beach in Truro, Massachusetts, and is the brain- child of my husband, Michael. In 1993 I was teaching a course called the Psychology of Criminal Behavior, with no text available that spanned the breadth of the fields which have contributed to our knowledge about crime, and about violent crime in particular. Instead of letting me complain, Michael merely pointed out that if no such book existed, then I should write it.

Several years later, I have completed a manuscript that, I hope, reflects my years working with colleagues in psychology, biology, sociology, and criminal justice. The study of violent crime has frequently been reduced to the study of very specific characteristics hypothesized to be causally related to violent behavior. As absolutely invaluable as knowledge of specific relationships is, it is critical to remember the forest, and not merely the trees. I explain this dilemma to my students in the following way: Suppose you were assigned a jigsaw puzzle to complete, and the pieces were hidden all over a house. First, you would need to locate each individual piece, but after you had these pieces, you would need to put them all together in order to complete the puzzle--just having the pieces in a heap wouldn't be helpful at all. You need to assemble them in order to form a general picture which you could then interpret usefully. The purpose of this book is to begin to form that picture, even while it is obvious that we have not yet found all the individual jigsaw pieces. Although many pieces are still hidden, I believe we have enough information now that if we assemble it, we can begin to understand how violence happens in a way that can be pragmatically useful to us as a society.

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