Domestic Violence and Psychology: A Critical Perspective, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Domestic Violence and Psychology

A Critical Perspective, 1st Edition

By Paula Nicolson


208 pages

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Paperback: 9780415383721
pub: 2010-06-17
Hardback: 9780415383714
pub: 2010-06-18
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203093092
pub: 2010-12-14
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This book rethinks the way psychological knowledge of domestic violence has typically been constructed. It puts forward a psychological perspective which is both critical of the traditional ‘woman blaming’ stance, as well as being at odds with the feminist position that men are wholly to blame for domestic abuse and that violence in intimate relationships is caused by gender-power relations. It is rather argued that to neglect the emotions, experiences and psychological explanations for domestic violence is to fail those who suffer and thwart attempts to prevent future abuse.

Paula Nicolson suggests that domestic violence needs to be discussed and understood on several levels: material contexts, including resources such as support networks as well as the physical impact of violence, the discursive, as a social problem or gendered analysis, and the emotional level which can be both conscious and unconscious.

Drawing on the work of scholars including Giddens, Foucault, Klein and Winnicott, and using interview and survey data to illustrate its arguments, Domestic Violence and Psychology develops a theoretical framework for examining the context, intentions and experiences in the lives of women in abusive relationships, the men who abuse and the children who suffer in the abusive family. As such this book will be of great interest to those studying social and clinical psychology, social work, cultural studies, sociology and women’s studies.


"Nicholson presents a thorough, thoughtful review of the history and current state of the conflicted field of intimate partner violence (IPV) research and advocacy. … Nicholson takes on an important, complex topic and one that obviously spans diverse viewpoints and methodologies. … This book is likely to interest readers involved in social work, women's studies, sociology, public policy and activism, and perhaps even mainstream psychologists interested in what may be a different perspective from their own." - Jody M. Ross, Ph.D., Indiana-Purdue University, USA, in Sex Roles

"Going beyond either/or positions, Paula Nicolson shows how the problem of domestic violence is as deeply personal as it is political. Her book revisions the landscape of scholarship through this dual lens, combining psychodynamic and feminist perspectives to produce a highly nuanced account of patterns of intimate partner violence. It is both a courageous and inspired book." – Janice Haaken, Portland State University, USA

Table of Contents

Introduction. Part 1. The Context. 1. Domestic Violence: The Material Context. 2. What is Domestic Abuse. 3. Psychology, Feminism, and Ideology: Where Do We Go From Here. Part 2. Discursive Constructions of Domestic Violence and Abuse. 4. The Social Construction of Domestic Abuse: Myths, Legends and Formula Stories. 5. Public Perceptions and Moral Tales. Part 3. (Re)turning to Intra-psychic Psychology. 6. Lived Experience and the 'Material-Discursive-Intra-Psychic' Self. 7. Domestic Abuse Across Generations: Intra-psychic Dimensions. 8. 'Doing' Domestic Violence: Dilemmas of Care and Blame. References.

About the Author

Paula Nicolson is Professor of Critical Social Health Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London and is also a trainee at the Tavistock in psychodynamic organisational consultancy.

About the Series

Women and Psychology

This series brings together current theory and research on women and psychology. Drawing on scholarship from a number of different areas of psychology, it bridges the gap between abstract research and the reality of women's lives by integrating theory and practice, research and policy.

Each book addresses a 'cutting edge' issue of research, covering topics such as postnatal depression and eating disorders, and addressing a wide range of theories and methodologies.

The series provides accessible and concise accounts of key issues in the study of women and psychology, and clearly demonstrates the centrality of psychology debates within women's studies or feminism.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / Couples & Family