Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (Applicant's Abstract): A number of both theoretical and
empirical sources have proposed that a significant group of domestic
violence perpetrators exhibit more antisocial behavior, express more
generalized violence, and generally are more resistant to mental health
interventions. In a parallel literature, researchers have identified a
subgroup of violence offenders that exhibit a number of characteristics
similar to this more antisocial/generally violent group. Furthermore, as
greater national attention has been focused on the problem of domestic
violence, local communities are becoming aware of the impact of domestic
violence upon their mental health care services. Perpetrators may enter the
local service systems through women's shelters, outpatient counselors,
emergency rooms, family physicians, and indirectly through the legal system.
However, recent theories have proposed that a subgroup of these men that
best can be identified as exhibiting psychopathic characteristics may pose
special problems for mental health service delivery systems. The current
study proposes that this subgroup of batterers can best be considered
psychopaths and that there are a number of implications for the delivery of
mental health services involving them. Specifically, it is proposed that
psychopathic batterers (1) will perpetrate more severe and more frequent
violence against their partners and have different motivations for doing so,
(2) will respond differently on cognitive tasks that assess specific
learning deficits and demonstrate more cognitive distortions relevant to the
commission of violence, (3) will exhibit differential levels of pathology,
(4) will be at greater risk for dual diagnosis, (5) will report greater use
of the mental health care system, and (6) will be less likely to respond
positively to current mental health services (i.e., will be less motivated
and more likely to drop out of treatment). A group of 150 men who have been
referred for treatment as a result of partner assault will be obtained from
two local outpatient treatment facilities that provide the only treatment of
perpetrators of domestic violence in the community. Upon referral,
participants will undergo a clinical interview and respond to a number of
psychological measures assessing both current and prior functioning. The
frequency, severity and motivation for their violent behavior will be
assessed. In addition, they will perform a cognitive task that has shown
the ability to differentiate psychopaths from nonpsychopaths in regard to
their learning inability. Participants' treatment amenability and
likelihood of completion will be assessed by their therapists prior to
treatment completion. Finally, participants will be asked to respond to a
number of questions designed to reveal the extent to which they have used
the community mental health resources.
Effective start/end date9/30/988/31/00


  • National Institute of Mental Health


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