A crisply written, valuable look at the emotional dynamics of heterosexual men who physically abuse their female partners (an estimated three to four percent of men in marital or other relationships with women). Dutton, a psychologist (Univ. of British Columbia) and director of the Assaultive Husbands Program in Vancouver, has seen hundreds of batterers in group therapy and done research on many more. He notes, with cowriter Golant (coauthor with Rosalynn Carter of Helping Yourself Help Others), that they are characterized by three phenomena in their family histories: fathers who shamed and humiliated them; emotionally labile mothers to whom they are thus ``fearfully attached''; and families that used physical violence to deal with conflicts. Dutton believes most batterers can be helped (an exception is the 20% or so of ``vagal'' abusers, who actually become neurologically calmer as they become more violent and who feel little or no remorse for their actions). In one fascinating chapter Dutton walks the reader through a group conducted for batterers. He also provides practical guidance to both the men and their victims on how to recognize, as well as defuse or escape from, a physically violent relationship. But in his focus on what might be called the parental triangle (father, mother, and son) in creating batterers, Dutton ignores the possible influences of siblings and other family members; he also largely scants the psychological impact of relationships in the batterer's adult life, with the exception of a brief section on how women are involved in a ``traumatic bonding'' with abusers. In addition, some of Dutton's sociological evidence on batterers and their victims comes from limited studies. Yet Dutton more than compensates for these shortcomings by clearly presenting a great deal of wisdom that he and others have accrued on batterers.
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