The Domestic Assault of Women: Psychological and Criminal Justice Perspectives

By Donald G. Dutton | Go to book overview

5
The Abusive Personality

The foregoing research located men who assault their wives in a social learning paradigm and began to formulate some general differences between those individuals and men who do not assault their wives. It may be misleading, however, to view all men who assault their wives as psychologically similar, as they do not all have the same patterns of violence.

As we saw in Chapter 1, some men engage in violence as part of a bidirectional exchange; others are generally violent; and still others engage in violence only in intimate relationships. This latter group in many ways represents a pure form of intimate violence. Unlike generally assaultive men, these men appear to have psychological issues that manifest themselves only in intimate relationships (as demonstrated by the exaggerated anger they showed to the abandonment scenarios).


Subcategories of Wife Assaulter

Subdividing wife assaulters into a variety of identifiable groups was first reported by Elbow (1977), who described four sets of clinical categories. She called them the controller, who views his wife as an object of control; the defender, who overprotects his wife; the approval-seeker, who makes excessive demands for approval from his wife to compensate for his poor self-esteem; and the incorporator, who needs his wife in order to validate and define himself.

Snyder and Fruchtman (1981) developed a typology based largely on battering behaviors described by women in shelters. The most frequent and severe violence was reported for men whose wives also described them as alcoholic and who saw their violence as alcohol-related. The authors did not attempt to relate the patterns of abuse to the mens' psychological characteristics.

Shields and Hannecke (1983) differentiated men who were violent only

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