CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


Rethinking Current Approaches to Psychological Abuse: Conceptual and Methodological Issues


Numerous ways in which we currently approach conceptualizing and measuring “psychological abuse” are highly problematic and likely inaccurate for understanding this complex phenomenon. While a major goal of this type of research often appears to be the identification of individuals considered to have been “psychologically abused”, this may be both a premature and misplaced goal. “Psychological abuse” has not been adequately defined, validated, or conceptually anchored in a way which provides a sound basis for its measurement, or which allows for conclusions to be made and applied to real-life settings. Rather, more important for this area of research is the development of sophisticated thought and measurement approaches applied to the broader field of psychological aggression (which does not attempt to determine a threshold for claiming “abuse” has occurred). The conceptualization and measurement of this complicated interpersonal phenomenon needs inclusion of not only the recipient's perspective, but also observers' views, the perspective of the initiator, outcome of the actions, analysis of contextual variables, as well as analysis of the recipient's and initiator's views.

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Published in Aggression and Violent Behavior, v. 12, no. 4, p. 439-458.

Dr. Diane Follingstad had not been a faculty member of the University of Kentucky at the publication time.

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