For the past several years Donna and I have attended the Battered Mothers Custody Conference and so we have been able to interact with domestic violence experts. Both of us were surprised to discover that although most of the worst spousal assault perpetrators have personality profiles indicative of sociopathy/psychopathy this fact is not recognized by many experts.
I have worked to become well acquainted with the scientific literature regarding intimate partner violence because I teach psychology of gender and because I very much want to understand why people who should know better often fail to diagnose sociopathy in perpetrators. This failure to diagnose has lead to intimate partner violence being erroneously interpreted as a gender issue related to male domination of females. This flies in the face of the real statistics which show that there are equal numbers of female perpetrators. The failure to recognize personality disturbance in female perpetrators has lead to male victims being further traumatized.
I am happy to report that the leading expert on intimate partner violence, Professor Donald Dutton of the University of British Columbia is fighting to correct the above misconceptions and to help people understand that domestic violence is perpetrated by disordered men and women.
In 1979, he cofounded the Assaultive Husbands Project, a court-mandated treatment program for men convicted of spousal assault. He has frequently served as an expert witness in civil trials involving intimate abuse and in criminal trials involving family violence. Dr. Dutton has published over 100 papers and four books, including Domestic Assault of Women, The Batterer: A Psychological Profile, Rethinking Domestic Violence and The Abusive Personality Violence and Control in Intimate Relationships.
I just finished reading The Abusive Personality and recommend it highly. In this book Dr. Dutton details the profile and personality structure of both male and female batterers. He makes a compelling case for his contention that personality disturbance is behind domestic violence in Western society. Next week I will summarize the personality profile of “Abusers” and explain how abuse relates to sociopathy/psychopathy.