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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Joseph Thomas, BS (Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book explores issues related to violent and criminal behavior. The author chooses a psychodynamic perspective as the primary theory which she uses to expound upon the roots of female violence.
Purpose: The author's purpose is to provide a psychological model for understanding female violence. She highlights three major areas: violence against children, violence against the self, and violence against others. She challenges the notions of female aggression as well, contending that female aggression is largely ignored because of societal ideals and "sentimentalised notions of motherhood and femininity." The author believes that the psychodynamic perspective is the "most powerful model for understanding its genesis and manifestation." The author's objectives have merit considering the increasing number of women in trouble with abusive relationships and/or legal problems. It is important to start dealing with these issues. The author does a credible job in meeting her goals. Her psychodynamic approach proves useful in conveying an understanding of the pathology involved in her case studies.
Audience: This book is intended to be a tool for practitioners in mental health, sociologists, students in clinical psychology, and criminologists. The author's use of psychodynamic theory narrows the audience. In my opinion, the book is more suited for students of psychology. She does provide a reference for those unfamiliar with psychoanalytic terms,but my impression remains that one would understand her perspective better if one is a student of psychology. The author's credentials are excellent. Her experiences with this population more than qualify her to speak on the issues she addresses.
Features: The author characterizes female violence into three major categories focusing on violence abgainst self, others and children. The covered topics include Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP), anorexia nervosa, abuse against children and battered women who kill. The most fascinating subject was the chapter on MSBP. The author's discussion is balanced and cautions the reader of the difficulties involved in dealing with these situations. The chapter on infanticide is also enlightening. I enjoyed the discourse regarding the psychological factors involved. The chapter on battered women who kill, though interesting, could have been expanded. I would have liked more information about the psychological factors involved in those situations. Also, an expanded discussion of considerations for treatment of these offenders would have been helpful.
Assessment: Overall, the author provides valuable insights into a engrossing subject matter. The book has increased my awareness of underlying issues and dynamics involved with female violence. In an effort to understand the population I work with, much of my reading involves books on abusive relationships and I remember the impact of those books in revealing the world of abusive relationships. This book has influenced me in a similar fashion. It is an important contribution to the subject of women and violence.