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Brandt, S. Rudden, M. (2020). A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Victims of Domestic Violence and Coercive Control. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 17(3):215-231.

(2020). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 17(3):215-231

Research Articles

A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Victims of Domestic Violence and Coercive Control

Stephanie Brandt, M.D. and Marie Rudden

Based on long clinical and forensic experience in the assessment and treatment of victims of domestic violence, the authors discuss some predisposing psychological factors that can lead to a woman's vulnerability to forming and maintaining an attachment to an abusive partner. Clinical vignettes to illustrate some kinds of observed vulnerabilities along with the authors' ideas as to their origins are presented. The authors argue that these women present with some common but hidden difficulties that may go unrecognized even in a psychoanalytic setting. This is, in part, because of our profession's lack of familiarity with the nature of domestic violence. A more nuanced understanding of the phenomenon of domestic violence is obscured by two crucial factors: first, there is an initial clinical focus on the reality of significant external obstacles to terminating these often intense bonds - even in the face of foreseeable danger to the victim and children; second, and perhaps more limiting, are psychoanalytically based assumptions about “characterological masochism” that often reflect simplistic, moralistic, misogynistic assumptions about women that continue to inform psychoanalytic theory in the area of family life. In addition, the authors discuss some of the interactions contained within the perpetrator/victim relationship that reflect and reinforce the internal liabilities observed in this group of victims.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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