Toxic Couples: The Psychology of Domestic Violence  book cover
1st Edition

Toxic Couples: The Psychology of Domestic Violence

ISBN 9780415588898
Published April 1, 2014 by Routledge
240 Pages

USD $56.95

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Book Description

Domestic violence is a major public health concern, affecting millions worldwide. It is underreported, often devastating and sometimes ends in murder. In Toxic Couples: The Psychology of Domestic Violence, Anna Motz integrates psychological and criminological data with clinical illustrations and discussion of current high-profile cases. She examines the complex manifestations and multiple causes of intimate partner violence.

Motz disentangles the roles played by those involved and examines the addictive nature of these damaging partnerships. The book describes various forms of abuse, including physical, sexual and emotional, and analyses how intimate partner violence can escalate to murder. She explores important factors including:

  • the role of addiction;
  • homelessness and vulnerability;
  • the intergenerational transmission of abuse;
  • sadomasochistic relationships;
  • honour-based violence.

The book emphasizes the significance of female- as well as male-perpetrated violence and outlines the powerful impact on the children of abusive parents, extending the clinical awareness of professionals working with those affected.

Toxic Couples: The Psychology of Domestic Violence is ideal for clinicians working with the victims and perpetrators of intimate partner violence, for students of psychology, gender studies and social care courses and for anyone interested in the psychological forces behind violence in relationships.


Table of Contents

Dedication. Acknowledgements. Foreword. Introduction: Kiss with a Fist. Russian Roulette: The dynamics of violent relationships. Action Replay: The intergenerational transmission of violence. Beauty and the Beast: Perversion within the family system. Murder in the Family. Shelter from the Storm: Home, homelessness and violence. Without Honour: Shame, forced marriage and honour-based violence. Xanadu: Addictive states in violent relationships. Conclusion: Out of the shadows. Reference. Further Reading.

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Anna Motz is a consultant clinical and forensic psychologist and psychotherapist with extensive experience of the assessment and treatment of victims and perpetrators of violence. She is a former president of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy, editor of Managing Self-Harm: Psychological Perspectives (Routledge, 2009) and author of The Psychology of Female Violence: Crimes Against the Body (Routledge, 2000, 2008).


"I would encourage those who are working with couples to turn towards this valuable text as a basis for extending their thinking and practice in an extremely challenging area of work."- Damian McCann, Couple and Family Psychoanalysis

"Although it can often be difficult for outside observers to understand why a person would remain in a relationship coloured by psychological, emotional, financial, physical and/or sexual abuse, much less profess their love and desire for the tormentor, research demonstrates these are not simple decisions... Motz unravels these mysteries again and again for the reader through dozens of captivating case studies. She offers us insights rarely available to non-clinicians, revealing the process of malignant attachment and childhood adversity that is so often at the foundation of domestic violence and intimate partner abuse. A particular strength of the book is the consideration given to diverse relationships and multiple forms of abuse and trauma.Motz offers readers a richly interwoven tapestry of theory, research findings, and clinical wisdom. This book is likely to appeal to the lay public as well as seasoned practitioners and novice clinical graduate students, alike." - Tonia Nicholls, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Canada.

"For far too long people have looked for simple solutions and wondered why men and women don't change their behaviours. I found Toxic Couples enlightening, challenging and provocative and it gave me a different perspective recalling past cases. The book is really timely as issues such as early intervention and the importance of attachment are increasingly gaining ground - both at a policy level and within the domestic violence sector. Anyone who reads this cannot help but be provoked to think a little bit and examine their own practice. It should be required reading of anyone training to work in the fields of forensic psychology, child protection, social work, advocates and DV work." - Mark Coulter, Strength to Change, UK.

"Toxic Couples is simultaneously dark and enlightening. It is essential reading for any clinician dealing with family conflicts since it courageously challenges the traditional view that women are always the victims of male violence. The acknowledgement that women can actively participate in domestic violence is accurately described and clinically proven. Reading this book will help to illuminate complex dynamics within violent partnerships, provide uneasy insights to all those involved in the assessment of domestic violence and prevent future failures in family court proceedings." - Dr Estela Welldon, Founder & Honorary Life President, International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy

"This book provides a scholarly and empathic analysis of what the author terms the "addictive force" of relationships in which destructive aggression and intimacy are interwoven. With great integrity, Anna Motz explores the role each partner can play when enmeshed in destructive forms of communication – "a kiss with a fist" – and how "the unthinkable" can in turn be acted out against one or more children whose parents have entered a state of malignant fusion. Detailed case discussions include headline cases of children who have evolved from helpless victim to powerful perpetrator in their re-enactment upon vulnerable peers of what they have witnessed but cannot process. Practitioners in the fields of criminal justice, forensic mental health, child protection and victim support will find this important book both illuminating and insightful." - Dr Celia Taylor, President, International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy and Clinical Head of Service, Millfields Unit, UK