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Domestic Violence - Who's Crazy? The Psychosocial Politics of Domestic Violence

As a psychologist, I'm often asked what is the psychopathology of individuals in abusive relationships?

The perpetrator's mental health status is usually more self-evident, whereas the victims' mental health status is clouded with the psychosocial politics of domestic violence combat.

Perpetrator Pathology

The perpetrator usually presents with any combination of the following personality disorders: narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder, along with intermittent explosive disorder.

Victim Diagnosis

Pathology in a victim, on the other hand, is less clear, less accurate and more often than not, merely a diagnostic label given as part of domestic violence combat. Often the diagnosis received by these women is nothing more than a psychological sword delivered at the bequest of-and manipulation by-their batterers.

It is estimated that 95% of all women going through the domestic violence shelter system will be given a psychiatric diagnosis by the evaluating mental healthcare provider before they get out-that is, during their navigation through domestic violence victim assistance.

And the diagnoses given are often a gross misrepresentation of many of these women's mental health. We see everything from substance-related disorders to anxiety disorders to mood disorders to severe personality disorders.

Consequence of Improper Diagnoses of Battered Women

Giving these women fraudulent psychiatric labels has serious consequences for the long-term health of these individuals. Once improperly diagnosed, they shy away from mental health care and cut themselves off from resources that could very well benefit their healing after the abusive relationship.

It is understandable how psychology and psychiatry have become enemies of battered women. If you are a domestic abuse survivor and a victim of the use of improper psychiatric diagnosis, seek to find a professional with psychotherapeutic skills AND a sound knowledge base in domestic violence as represented by the battered women's movement.

This way you will get the best of both worlds, and most likely insure both your overall safety and your long-term sanity.

For more information about the psychosocial politics of domestic abuse, see Legal Domestic Abuse and claim your free Survivor Success Tips and eInsights. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people worldwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse at home and in court.©2008 Jeanne King, Ph.D. http://www.PreventAbusiveRelationships.com

12/25/2008
About Author
Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
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