Volume 29, Issue 1 (January 1984)
Psychosocial Dynamics of Child Abuse
The problem of child abuse warrants steadfast social concern and attentive study by social scientists, forensic scientists, and mental health professionals. What moves adults to physically abuse children entrusted to their care? In the present inquiry, an overview of a substantial body of the literature is organized by exploring three dimensions of abuse: the parental relationship, the psychopathology of abusive parents, and the psychodynamics of motivation. None of these dimensions taken alone provides a satisfactory understanding of the phenomenon of abuse. An integrative model is offered wherein child abuse is regarded as a function of three general factors: stresses on the parent, ego weaknesses of the parent, and vectors that direct the parent's violent impulses against the child.