• Love without Violence: A new treatment for spouse abusers

      Stosny, Steven; Varghese, Raju (1993)
      The current work develops a new treatment for family violence offenders, adapted for, and tested on, 100 spouse abusers in a field experiment involving five different community mental health centers in Maryland and Virginia. With standard agency treatment serving as comparison, results revealed large, statistically significant differences between groups. As hypothesized, the experimental treatment greatly reduced recidivism of violence and verbal aggression, while increasing compassion for spouse, well-being, viable strategies to resolve potentially violent situations, and acceptance of personal responsibility for abusive behavior. The treatment is drawn from a reformulation of the problem of spouse violence in a more illuminating context of what can accurately be called, attachment abuse. The theoretical foundation of this view is phenomenological constructivism, which includes attachment theory as a key developmental and integrative explanation for the way individuals construct the meaning of themselves and their environments. Attachment abusers are described as persons afflicted with painful constructions of self, with deficits of affect-regulation and attachment skills. The former makes them feel out of control and powerless, a condition they futilely try to correct by abusively exerting power and control over attachment figures. Because attachment figures serve as illusory reflections of the inner self--a mirror image of the loving and lovable self--attachment abusers succumb to the deeper illusion that they can control painful constructions of self by manipulating the mirror.