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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Jada Johnson, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This book addresses problems that arise for children of conflicted and violent divorce. It suggests a multidisciplinary intervention approach to limiting the negative psychological impact these divorces can have on children.
Purpose: The purpose is to understand a child's experience of conflicted and violent divorce and how it may lead to psychopathology and to emphasize the importance of early intervention to limit the extent of the psychopathology. On some level these objectives are met, but there is a considerable amount of time dedicated to the intrapsychic workings of the parents.
Audience: According to the authors, this book is written for a multidisciplinary audience of family law professionals (judges, family lawyers, mediators, child custody evaluators) and mental health practitioners. However, it appears geared primarily to mental health workers who would understand the complex psychodynamic formulations of behavior and pathology that it discusses. Although the book is an easy read, it requires a knowledge base in psychodynamic theory to fully understand. The author has 30 years of experience in working with this specialized group of children.
Features: The book covers the psychological dynamics for the parents as well as the child who is in the middle of a conflicted/violent divorce. Explicitly it describes how children may manage the conflict by use of various defenses based on their corresponding developmental level. I appreciate how this book uses case examples to explore the complicated dynamic processes. The book also covers special issues that may arise (i.e. parental abduction, sexual abuse allegations). Useful appendixes provide guidelines for assessment of these families and research data about conflicted and violent divorce.
Assessment: This is a very useful book, especially the elements aimed at understanding the psychodynamic processes of parents and children involved in a conflicted or violent divorce. It provides a good base for beginning to treat children in this situation as well as good information for understanding the legal and community services available. This comprehensive book has increased my awareness of the issues involved in this area.