How can dissociation help us to understand violent behaviour?

Author/s Andrew Moskowitz
Publishing Year 2010 Issue 2010/1 Language English
Pages 16 P. 17-32 File size 477 KB
DOI 10.3280/MAL2010-001002
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The connection between dissociative experiences and violent behaviour, while well established in literature, has been ignored in criminological and public policy debates. Throughout the Western world, homicides are regularly reported by the media in which friends or family members express astonishment, insisting the accused to be "incapable" of such behaviour because he was "a nice guy", "a good friend", etc. Many people continue to believe that a person’s public behaviour is consistent with what they are like in private, which ignores the reality of dissociation. This paper will attempt to correct this perception by discussing several ways in which dissociation and violence may be linked. Following a brief overview of dissociation and the Dissociative Experiences Scale, evidence will be presented to suggest that dissociation may mediate the so-called intergenerational "cycle of violence". I will then consider the prevalence and significance of ongoing dissociative experiences reported by prisoners and offenders, dissociative experiences occurring at the time of a violent offence, and reported levels of amnesia subsequent to homicides. Finally, I will discuss a proposed type of homicide offender, known as "over-controlled hostile" - a person with no history of aggression and significant difficulties with assertiveness - which could be considered to be dissociative in nature. Key words: dissociative experiences, violence, amnesia, peri-traumatic dissociation, homicide

Keywords: Esperienze dissociative, violenza, amnesia, dissociazione peritraumatica, omicidio

Andrew Moskowitz, How can dissociation help us to understand violent behaviour? in "MALTRATTAMENTO E ABUSO ALL’INFANZIA" 1/2010, pp 17-32, DOI: 10.3280/MAL2010-001002