Battered Women's Syndrome: A Survey of Contemporary Theories

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Click Here For Research Papers Online! Battered Women's Syndrome: A Survey of Contemporary Theories Domestic Violence November 16, 1996 In 1991, Governor William Weld modified parole regulations and permitted women to seek commutation if they could present evidence indicating they suffered from battered women's syndrome. A short while later, the Governor, citing spousal abuse as I. The Classical Theory of Battered Women's Syndrome and its Origins The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), known in the mental health field as the clinician's bible, does not recognize battered women's syndrome as a distinct mental disorder. In fact, Dr. Lenore Walker, the architect of the classical battered women's syndrome theory, notes the syndrome is not an illness, but a theory that draws upon the principles of learned helplessness to explain why some women are The theory of learned helplessness sought to account for the passive behavior subjects exhibited when placed in an uncontrollable environment. In the late 60's and early 70's, Martin Seligman, a famous researcher in the field of psychology, condu In the late 1970's, Dr. Walker drew upon Seligman's research and incorporated it into her own theory, the battered women's syndrome, in an attempt to explain why battered women remain with their abusers. According to Dr. Walker, battered women's The tension building phase ends and the active battering phase begins when the verbal abuse and minor battering evolve into an acute battering incident. A release of the tensions built during phase one characterizes the active battering phase, wh After the active battering phase comes to a close, the cycle of violence enters the calm loving respite phase or "honeymoon phase." During this phase, the batterer apologizes for his abusive behavior and promises that it will never happen again. According to Dr. Walker, Seligman's theory of learned helplessness explains why women stay with their abusers and occurs in a victim after the cycle of violence repeats numerous times. As noted earlier, dogs who were placed in an environment wher As the classical theory of battered women's syndrome is based upon the psychological principles of conditioning, experts believe that behavior modification strategies are best suited for treating women suffering from the syndrome. A simple, yet e In sum, the classical battered women's syndrome is a theory that has its origins in the research of Martin Seligman. Women in a domestic abuse situation experience a cycle of violence with their abuser. The cycle is composed of three phases: the II. An Alternate Battered Women's Syndrome Theory: Battered Women as Survivors. Over the years, empirical data has emerged that casts doubt on Dr. Walker's explanation of why women stay with their batterers or, in extreme cases, why they kill their abusers. Two researchers, Edward W. Gondolf and Ellen R. Fisher, make referen The first element of the survivor theory surmises that a pattern of abuse prompts battered women to employ innovative coping strategies and to seek help, such as flattering the batterer and turning to their families for assistance. When these so The second element of Gondolf and Fisher's theory posits that a lack of options, know-how and finances, not learned helplessness, instills a feeling of anxiety in the victim that prevents her from escaping the abuser. When a battered woman seeks The third element expands on the first and describes how the victim actively seeks help from a variety of formal and informal help sources. For instance, an example of an informal help source would be a close friend and a formal help source would The fourth element of the survivor theory hypothesizes that the failure of the aforementioned help sources to intervene in a comprehensive and decisive manner permits the cycle of abuse to continue unchecked. Interestingly, Gondolf and Fisher bla Because the survivor theory of learned helplessness attributes the battered woman's plight to ineffective help sources and societal indifference, a logical solution would entail increased funding for programs in place and educating the public abou To recap, Edward W. Gondolf and Ellen R. Fisher developed the survivor theory of battered women's syndrome to explain why statistics indicate that battered women increase their help seeking behavior as the violence escalates. The theory is compos III. Battered Women's Syndrome Equals Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Although the DSM-IV does not recognize battered women's syndrome as a distinct mental illness or disorder, some experts maintain that battered women's syndrome is just another name for post traumatic stress disorder, which the DSM-IV recognizes. In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association added the post traumatic stress disorder classification to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders III, a manual used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental illness. Altho Since 1980, the American Psychiatric Association has revised the criteria for diagnosing post traumatic stress disorder several times. Currently, the diagnostic criteria for post traumatic stress disorder include a history of exposure to a trauma As noted earlier, in order for a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder to apply, the individual must have been exposed to a traumatic event involving actual or threatened death or injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of the person o In addition to meeting the traumatic event diagnostic criteria, an individual must have symptoms from the intrusive recollection, avoidant/numbing and hyper arousal categories for a post traumatic stress disorder diagnosis to apply. The intrusive The avoidant/numbing cluster consists of the emotional strategies individuals with post traumatic stress disorder use to reduce the likelihood that they will either expose themselves to traumatic stimuli, or if exposed, will minimize their psychol The hyper ar

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