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Theoretical Approaches to Domestic Violence

In reviewing theoretical approaches to domestic violence for your research paper, there are many approaches that could be utilized as the theoretical orientation for domestic violence research analysis. These approaches might include the psychodynamic approach, the medical or biological model, or the behavioral-cognitive approach.

Theoretical Approaches to Domestic Violence

The psychodynamic approach was first conceptualized by Sigmund Freud. It suggests that domestic violence might have its origins in trauma experienced when one was a child. This trauma resulted in inadequate formation of the ego and superego resulting in unconscious forces that may become uncontrollable for an individual. As such, this theory has had limited use within the context of domestic violence.

The medical or biological model is another view that is often utilized in the discussion or investigation of abnormal behaviors. It suggests that such behaviors may originate from genetic sources and dysfunctions within the brain or nervous system. Because of the diversity of domestic violence and the ability of offenders to control their behavior, these theories seem inadequate. Some individuals do exhibit violent behavior as a result of psychiatric conditions, such as bipolar disorder or paranoid schizophrenia. But the violent behavior is a consequence of the disorder and is not necessarily directed at a family member.  Unfortunately, this model is also limited.

The behavior-cognitive model, however, appears to be ideal for the basis of analysis of domestic violence, particularly with regard to causality and treatment. This model allows many avenues for investigation. For example, the concept of social modeling theory may have some impact of the prevention and treatment of domestic violence. Additionally, cognitive factors may be explored, such as

  • How parents, peers, community and culture mold the scripts, beliefs and attitudes that influence violent behavior in youth;
  • How these scripts and beliefs interact with the experience of a particular moment to cause a person to behave violently;
  • The extent to which the kind of thinking characteristic of more aggressive youth is linked to early temperament or cognitive abilities.

Behavioral-cognitive therapies have been very successful in the treatment of many disorders, including offenders and victims of domestic violence. Thus, such a model will most likely provide an adequate basis for study of these issues.

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