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The Batterer: A Psychological Profile

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About the Course:

University of British Columbia psychology professor Donald Dutton specializes in treating batterers. A batterer’s mind, he says, is “a place of anguish and self-loathing.’‘ Writing with Golant (coauthor with Rosalyn Carter of Helping Yourself Help Others) he discusses the symptoms, characteristics and, in some cases, the cure for such violent behavior. Most repeat batterers, he maintains, suffer from a fragile sense of self, usually the result of a shaming father, an only intermittently available mother and violence in the family. For the batterer, an episode of violence involves three stages: buildup of tension, battering and contrition. Dutton rejects neurological and metabolic causes and sees symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in the fear-filled attachment of the batterer to the woman he batters, whom he needs. Dutton shows how group therapy has occasionally been successful in treating batterers. With dramatic case histories that shed light on the dark secrets of spousal abuse, and with its singular focus on the personality of the abuser, rather than that of the victim, The Batterer provides the missing link to show how men can harm the women they love and how we can begin to put an end to violence behind closed doors.

This course is based on the , The Batterer: A Psychological Profile created by Donald G. Dutton, Ph.D. and Susan K. Golant


Basic Books

Publication Date:

© 1995

Course Material Authors

Donald G. Dutton, Ph.D.

Don Dutton received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Toronto in 1970. In 1974, while on faculty at the University of British Columbia, he began to investigate the criminal justice response to wife assault, preparing a government report that outlined the need for a more aggressive response, and subsequently training police in “domestic disturbance” intervention techniques. From 1979 to 1995, he served as a therapist in the Assaultive Husbands Project, a court mandated treatment program for men convicted of wife assault. In the course of providing therapy for these men, he drew on his background in both social and clinical psychology to develop a psychological model for intimate abusiveness. He has published over one hundred papers and ten books, including The Domestic Assault of Women, The Batterer and The Abusive Personality : A Psychological Profile. Dutton has served as an expert witness in criminal trials involving family violence, including his work for the prosecution in the O.J. Simpson trial. He is currently Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia.

Susan K. Golant

Susan Golant is the author of fifteen books, including Helping Yourself Help Others, with Rosalynn Carter.

Course Creator

Keith Gibson, Ph.D.

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for health care professionals, especially addiction counselors, psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, and nurses who seek knowledge about male batterers. It is appropriate for all levels of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Explain how a shaming, emotionally rejecting, or absent father, an intermittently available mother, and exposure to violence can combine to produce a cyclical batterer.

  2. Explain the significance of diagnoses of borderline personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder in the understanding of batterers.

  3. Explain why a grasp of both the feminist view (i.e., power and control theory) and social learning theory is necessary, but not sufficient, to a full understanding of the behavior of cyclical batterers.

  4. Distinguish between psychopathic, overcontrolled, and cyclical batterers.

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Course Retired
Course Number 100945
6 credit hours
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Exam Fee: No Longer Available

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