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Intergenerational Cycles of Trauma and Violence: An Attachment and Family Systems Perspective

Overview

Exploring the conditions under which children, as a function of their own abuse, become abusive themselves.
That experiences from childhood affect our behavior in adulthood, especially how we treat our children and our intimate partners is generally accepted. Indeed, theories of intergenerational transmission of violence assume that if we ourselves have been abused and neglected as children, we will be abusive and neglectful to others close to us, thus extending the cycle across...
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Intergenerational Cycles of Trauma and Violence: An Attachment and Family Systems Perspective

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This item will be available on December 15, 2014.
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Overview

Exploring the conditions under which children, as a function of their own abuse, become abusive themselves.
That experiences from childhood affect our behavior in adulthood, especially how we treat our children and our intimate partners is generally accepted. Indeed, theories of intergenerational transmission of violence assume that if we ourselves have been abused and neglected as children, we will be abusive and neglectful to others close to us, thus extending the cycle across generations. However, many individuals who were maltreated as children do not replicate this cycle. Similarly, little sense is made of the individual raised in a “good family” who is violent either as a child or as an adult. These discontinuities of cycles of violence and trauma have baffled professionals and nonprofessionals alike. However, broadening our vision and attending to new areas of research can help to illuminate this conundrum and to consider new avenues of intervention. This book aims to do just that.
It is the premise of this book that an increased risk for abusive behavior or revictimization as a function of one’s own experiences of abuse or trauma in childhood can best be understood through the complementary lenses of attachment theory (focusing on the relationship between the child and the caregiver) and family systems theory (focusing on the larger context of this relationship). That is, what a child acquires from his/her relationship with the caregiver is not simply a reflection of what the child has “learned” from experiencing or witnessing abuse, but more importantly, from the child’s experience of the relationship itself, on an implicit, emotional, physical and neurobiological level.
This book presents a detailed review of the literature as well as clinical examples to aid professionals of all backgrounds.
Topics include: the parent-child attachment relationship; family context of attachment relationships; neurobiology and genetics; peer victimization and partner violence; child sexual abuse; special populations.
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Editorial Reviews

Scott R. Woolley
“I wish I had this book when I started my career, and I am thrilled to have it now. Dr. Alexander brilliantly integrates leading theory and research from a wide variety of fields to help readers understand the complex interactions between familial, biological, psychological, and social factors that can lead to intergenerational cycles of violence and trauma. This book will be a valuable resource for clinicians and researchers for years to come.””
Peter Fonagy
“This is the best—and in reality only—comprehensive treatment of intergenerational cycles of maltreatment and abuse. It is also one of the best integrations of systemic thinking with attachment theory you are likely to find anywhere. Alexander’s book is essential reading for all those working clinically with children and adults, together or individually, who bring experiences of trauma into the consulting room.”
Victoria Follette
“This book is essential reading for researchers and clinicians who work in the area of violence and trauma. The compelling case examples help to bring the material to life. Implications for treatment are presented as well as factors that can enhance resilience. This significant volume tackles difficult questions and provides an insightful analysis of the current literature on violence and victimization. It is a foundation for guiding future research.”
Christine A. Courtois
“In this beautifully written book, Dr. Pam Alexander has shed light on an important and understudied topic: intergenerational cycles of trauma and violence. She has drawn from a variety of sources and melded them with contemporary findings from the neurosciences and from attachment and family systems theories to offer new insights about intergenerational cycles of violence that affect individuals and families. The information provided here can be used to guide the development of relational and behavioral interventions that offer hope for breaking the cycle, thereby sparing victims from repeated abusive behavior and from revictimization.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393707182
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/15/2014
  • Pages: 384

Meet the Author

Pamela C. Alexander, PhD, has conducted family violence research for over 30 years. At the Universities of Memphis, Maryland and Pennsylvania, she was the PI for three federally funded projects including the first randomized clinical trial of group treatment for incest survivors and a psychotherapy outcome study of the use of motivational interviewing with male batterers. She also evaluated the Army’s and the Marines’ home visitation child abuse prevention program. She currently consults with JBS International and has a private practice. She lives in Sherborn, Massachusetts.
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