The Psychology of Domestic Violence
When Domestic Abuse and Psychopathology
Are One

Dr. King



by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Have you ever noticed the spillover of psychopathology into domestic violence?

Itís as though a domestic abuse incident is an expression of a particular type of psychological disturbance. And some psychological dysfunction specifically expresses itself in acts of violence. In fact, as we note in diagnosing psychopathology, acts of violence and control issues serve as primary diagnostic criteria in making a psychological assessment.

As a psychologist specializing in the treatment of domestic abuse, I am keenly aware of the way in which the psychological disturbance drives the domestic abuse. And this awareness is what makes it possible for me to appreciate the potential for psychotherapeutic change.

It also helps me determine what cases are more likely to demonstrate behavior change and which are more likely to remain dysfunctional and violent.

Domestic Abuse Hits Home

For example, letís look at Randy and Renee. From the outside looking in, Randy just looks like an angry man with a violent temper. Even though he is a healthcare professional, his behavior shows horrific disregard for his partnerís welfare.

In the office Randy saves lives; but at home he breaks down his wifeís character, essence and spirit. His belief is that if she is not satisfying his every need, then he is justified in battering her.

Hereís the problem with Randy and the dynamic before him and his wife. Randy is never without an unsatisfied need. Can you feel the vulnerability of Renee in relation to Randy?

The Real Craziness of Domestic Abuse

Then there is Ed and Pricilla. Ed had been diagnosed with a passive aggressive personality disorder, with significant delusional tendencies.

His psychopathology is the foundation structure for battering oneís partner. He will be abusive when he is not getting his way. And sometimes his abusive behavior can be seriously violent. That is part of his psychological disorder.

There is clearly domestic abuse in both of these cases. In the first couple, there is a significantly higher potential for change because of the fact that Randy doesnít present with a personality disorder. Whereas, Ed and Pricilla will more likely have serious challenges in breaking the cycle of violence because of Edís underlying psychopathology and its resistance to psychotherapy.

If you are in an abusive relationship characterized by control and verbal or physical abuse, seek to understand the dynamics of domestic violence and the underlying psychological condition in the event that one exists. The more you know, the easier it is for you to identify your best course of action.

For more insights about the psychology of domestic abuse, visit and get access to online professional insights today. For personal help with an abusive relationship, visit Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals nationwide end and heal from domestic abuse.

© Jeanne King, Ph.D. ó Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.