Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

The Abusive Personality: Violence and Control in Intimate Relationships

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

The Abusive Personality: Violence and Control in Intimate Relationships

Article excerpt

The Abusive Personality: Violence and Control in Intimate Relationships. Donald G. Dutton. New York: Guilford. 1998. 214 pp. ISBN 157230-3701-0 $2.9 cloth.

In this comprehensive, theoretically and empirically sound book, Donald Dutton expands on the leading models of domestic abuse by focusing on the personality structure of male batterers. Based on his own research, Dutton describes the "abusive personality" as it relates to borderline personality organizations and trauma symptoms. Origins of the "abusive personality" are discussed from an object relations and attachment theory perspective, relating adult abusiveness to the traumatization that occurs in the family of origin. The chapters move from a review of current theories of violence and their limitations to a presentation of violence as an internal cyclical process that has its origins in the early family environment, and the book closes with a 16-week treatment model for abusiveness.

Dutton focuses on the undercontrolled impulsive or cyclical batterer whose violence is typically frequent, intermittent, and occurs only in intimate relationships. An overview of the conceptualization of abusiveness emphasizes the strengths and limitations of leading theories of domestic abuse. Dutton highlights the social learning theory and points out the limitations of focusing on external triggers and modeled behavioral responses. He integrates the well-documented cycle of violence by relating it to similar cycles in borderline personality disorder. Specifically, Dutton suggests that anger may occur as part of a cyclical internal emotional process that triggers abusive behavior in the absence of external stumuli.

The main emphasis of this book is on the structure of the abusive personality and its relationship to borderline personality organization. Dutton provides a detailed description of the assessment of borderline personality organization and research methodology used to study it. Borderline personality organization is an unstable sense of self and and inability to tolerate aloneness. …

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