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Cycle theory of violence & legal responsibility


FredParisFrance 61 / 7  
Jan 10, 2008   #1
Hello,

Could you please read my essay and give me some feedback?

The prompt is:

Each student will write an essay that discusses the generational cycle of violence. This essay will include the stage/phase theories on violence patterns and will include relevant current research on this topic. Include if the research is noting the patterns of intergenerational violence to be socially learned or biological in nature.

Thank you in advance

Frederic

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One flew over the research's nest: Is the legal responsibility of domestically violent partners correctly evaluated?

Conventional wisdom assumes that domestic violence occurs according to a cyclic pattern between intimate partners. The feminist Lenore Walker was one of the earliest scholars who tackled the issue of scientifically defining this pattern. She supported a "cycle theory of violence" consisting of three phases to explain the recurrence of abusive episodes between intimate partners. A first phase of tension building characterizes a gradual escalation of hostility between the partners. A second phase of battering epitomizes by the utilization of violence for exerting dominance. Finally, a third phase of honeymoon typifies the seeming conclusion of violence in addition to apologies. Such a theory is so clearly explicit that one could be tempted to overlook the factors that were at the origin of the earliest abusive event and why the frequency and severity of the subsequent episodes of domestic violence augment. It is hypothesized that a review of the current research on activators of aggressiveness might highlight common characteristics between recurrent heterosexual and homosexual abusers. It may help individuals' involved in the legal system, such as lawmakers and lawyers, to evaluate to what extent abusers are influenced by their genetic makeup or their environment, namely to what extent they can objectively be considered responsible for their acts. Two models appearing especially suitable to reveal the conditions that lead to the repetition of abusive events between intimate partners are presented. The first model derives from Locke's empiricism and a cognitive perspective whereas the second one derives from Descartes's nativism and a biological perspective.

Scholars have offered various theoretical models for apprehending the cycle theory of violence. The repetition of one's employment of domestically violent acts in homosexual and heterosexual relationships may stem from the education associated with one's gender. On the one hand, Low claims that aggressiveness is predominantly inculcated to males whereas self-reliance and obedience are primarily aimed at females (1989). That finding may explicate why males generally utilize submission, humiliation and intra-sexual menaces when they feel a potential infidelity on their partner's part (Buss & Shackelford, 1997). Moreover, men's perception of social support is one of the three pillars leading to their aggressiveness (O'Leary, Smith Slep, & O'Leary, 2007). Such findings highlight the homosexual and heterosexual males' repetitive employ of abuse against their intimate partners. On the other hand, Low underlines that mothers living within societies in which women really control their own resources do not induce their daughters into being docile (1989). Furthermore, Buss & Shackelford suggest that females display verbal signals of possession to ensure the retention of their intimate partners (1997). This behaviour associated with the greater confidence above-mentioned may explain why some homosexual and heterosexual females recurrently abuse their intimate partners. Accordingly, domestically violent partners may not be automatically fully responsible for their acts since they may have been taught to react this way. Cross-cultural and local examinations of learnt behaviours should be carefully investigated by individuals' involved in the legal system before contending that an individual is empowered with absolute free-will.

The recurrent utilization of abusive behaviours in one's heterosexual or homosexual relationships may be associated by personal experience. Indeed, the perpetration of violent acts against one's intimate partner is reported to strongly result from exposure to conduct disorders and domestic violence between parents, whatever one's gender may be (Ehrensaft, Cohen, Brown, Smailes, Chen, & Johnson, 2003). Furthermore, marital adjustment is also suggested to be among the most significant determinants of aggression against one's intimate partner (O'Leary, Smith Slep, & O'Leary, 2007). These examples are only an infinitesimal sample of the long list of personal experiences that can alter the course of one's commitment to perpetration of domestic violence. As far as the cycle theory of violence is concerned, the multitude of causes gives an insight into the myriad of possible situations generating violence between intimate partners. Moreover, personal problem-solving and decision-making systems that have been constructed by individuals to address their intimate partners' daily issues are not necessarily the fruit of conscious thoughts, but may rather be the consequence of phenomena such as social learning. This substantiates the assumption that individuals may employ domestic violence simply because it fits these cognitive and behavioural patterns. Accordingly, individuals' involved in the legal system may keep in mind that perpetrators of domestic violence may be "puppets" of their environment and, thus, they may have not be given the same education or experience as people who do not employ violence against their intimate partners.

The impact of neuroanatomical impairments on the prevalence of aggressiveness has been showed by researchers. Antisocial, violent, and psychopathic behaviour may be the consequence of lesions affecting the amygdalae (Miczek, De Almeida, Kravitz, Rissman, De Boer, Raine, 2007). Indeed, as one of the basal ganglia in the cerebral hemispheres, amygdalae regulate moral cognition in addition to perceiving and adjusting emotion. Coccaro, McCloskey, Fitzgerald, Phan point out that individuals with a history of impulsive aggressive behaviour experience a dysfunction of the amygdala-orbitofrontal cortex that induces them into violence when faced with ecologically-valid social threat signals such as their intimate partners' angry faces (2007). This inappropriate activation of affective defensive responses, also supported by (Strueber, Lueck, Roth, 2006), may highlight why homosexual and heterosexual partners of both sexes utilize violence against their intimate partners whereas their own life is not in jeopardy. Phillips contends that violence could be linked to undersized amygdalae (2006), because he notes that males and females with small amygadalae carry a variant of a gene that has been associated with aggression. However, individuals undergoing borderline personality disorders (characterized by psychological instability, impulsiveness, and aggressiveness) have not significantly under or overdeveloped amygadalae, neither problems in its structure (New, Hazlett, Buchsbaum, Goodman, Mitelman, Newmark, Trisdorfer, Haznedar, MKoenigsberg, Flory, Siever, 2007). Therefore, the volume and the constitution of individuals' amygdalae cannot be considered as the sole predictor of violence. Consequently, individuals' involved in the legal system should consider a close examination of the domestically violent partners' neuroanatomy before claiming their entire responsibility when these people are engaged in the judicial process. Indeed, a violent lesbian could be blamed, at first sight, because she allegedly does not want to put an end to the cycle of violence whereas she is, from a biological point of view, incapable to stop her aggressiveness.

The possibility that the major neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline) and serotonin, might generate aggressiveness has been studied. Whereas Haden claims that a great number of researches tend to establish that levels of norepinephrine affect the appearance of aggressive behaviour (2007), Bond argues that impulsive aggression are tightly connected with low levels in serotonin (2005). These conclusions could support the hypothesis that abusers of both sexes could not entirely be accountable for their aggressive behaviour. Indeed, a mutation in one of the genes intervening in the production of neurotransmitters, such as the one coding the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) catalysing the oxidative deamination of norepinephrine and serotonin, can lead to a rare behavioural syndrome linked with chromosomes X (Rosenberg, Templeton, Feigin, Lancet, Beckmann, Selig, Hamer, & Skorecki, 2006). Rosenberg and al. state that this condition not only hampers individuals' impulse control but also sparks off aggressiveness in addition to mental retardation on the form of the Brunner syndrome, which is a borderline mental retardation (2006). However, deficiencies in serotonin can be sequels of childhood trauma, such as neglect and abuse (Strueber, Lueck, Roth, 2006). This insufficiency associated with enduring neurobiological consequences of other childhood trauma, such as an excess of norepinephrine, can transcribe one's perception of abandonment into responses of terror and fury (Dutton, 2002). Consequently, permanent deficiencies or excesses of certain neurotransmitters may explain why heterosexual and homosexual abusers of both sexes employ aggressiveness with their intimate partners. Moreover, such long-term biochemical differences may also explicate why domestic violence is resurgent in relationships between intimate partners. Nevertheless, these biochemical differences are not necessarily connected with early trauma experience or genetic variations since various antisocial behaviours may stem from substance abuse. Consequently, although domestic violence may partially relieve perpetrators of answerability because they do not apprehend the severity of their acts, individuals involved in the legal system also have to estimate whether offenders are in a position to refrain from abusing their intimate partners or not.

The influence of high level of hormones such as testosterone on male aggressive behaviour has been demonstrated. High levels of the masculine sex hormone predict aggressiveness in males (Sjöberg, Ducci, Barr, Newman, Dell'Osso, Virkkunen, & Goldman, 2008). Moreover, these males tend to be more willing to engage in aggressive behaviours than females (McDermott, Johnson, Cowden, Rosen, 2007). These findings support the idea that abusive males towards their opposite or same-sex partners may not be completely responsible for their acts. Indeed, a husband who would suffer from a tumour producing high levels of androgens, and especially testosterone, would be more likely to be aggressive. In the same way, a professional football player who is accustomed to employing injections of steroids to ameliorate his performances would also have high levels of testosterone. Consequently, a growing tumour that is not removed or doping injections that are frequently utilized during sportive seasons may explain why the recurrence of abuse on the part of a man increases in frequency and severity. Accordingly, individuals' involved in the legal system must keep in mind that domestic violence may result from a medical condition that is not desired by the abuser or may originate from illegal acts. Whatever the case, the legislation has to evaluate the degree to which an individual's condition is the fruit of illegal actions or a poor health.

When she developed her cycle theory of violence, Lenore Walker might have been far from imagining the whole range of reasons generating domestic violence. As a matter of fact, Walker's theory is only descriptive of a cycle that generally happens in couples living in western countries. This cycle is tailored to fit into the feminist theory advocating a worldview rooted in a quasi-despotic patriarchy. However, since domestically violent individuals belong to both sexes in addition to being involved into homosexual and heterosexual relationships, conceptual frameworks that are only based on socio-cognitive approaches, such as individuals' culture or personal experience, are in no way sufficient to apprehend the many reasons that may generate the recurrence of abuse in domestically violent couples. Nevertheless, thanks to tremendous advances, biology, and especially genetics, open new vistas into the very reasons that may spark off violence between intimate partners.

The investigation of factors contributing to the escalation in frequency and severity of abuse may be better conducted thanks to the Tinbergen's proximate (or mechanistic) question for ethologists. Indeed, abusive attitudes may be responses elicited by a repetition of stimuli, endogenous and/or exogenous, which are closely related to this individual's genetic makeup. That individuals' intrinsic structure directly influences their ontogenic development that, in return, acts on their proximate mechanisms and behaviours. Finally, the transmission of memes and genes impacts on the phylogeny of the Homo sapiens sapiens species. Consequently, scholars could put forward an explicative theory for the descriptive cycle theory of violence.

Finally, these considerations raise the most important question for people involved in the legal system: may perpetrators of domestic violence be considered morally accountable for their acts? In other words, do they benefit from free will? This is a quite controversial question since it implies that lawyers, judges, and policymakers, among others, ponder whether domestically violent partners should be sentenced to jail, capital punishment or medical treatment on a vague approximation of our biological composition. That consideration sheds light on the fact that Lawyers, judges, and policymakers should dwell on sound forensic expertises involving both nativistic and deterministic approaches. And in the end, are people involved in the legal system willing to "lobotomize" their own intellects to preserve our legal and cultural expectations?

EF_Team2 1 / 1,709  
Jan 11, 2008   #2
Greetings!

I'm happy to help with some editing suggestions for your excellent essay!

A second phase of battering is epitomized by the utilization of violence for exerting dominance.

It may help individuals involved in the legal system - you put an apostrophe after the word individuals throughout your essay; it only needs an apostrophe when it is used possessively, as in "individuals' amygdalae."

should be carefully investigated by individuals involved in the legal system

Accordingly, individuals involved in the legal system

The impact of neuroanatomical impairments on the prevalence of aggressiveness has been shown by researchers.

However, individuals undergoing borderline personality disorders (characterized by psychological instability, impulsiveness, and aggressiveness) do not have significantly under or overdeveloped amygadalae, or problems in its structure

Consequently, individuals involved in the legal system should consider a close examination

she is, from a biological point of view, incapable of stopping her aggressiveness.

Bond argues that impulsive aggression is tightly connected with low levels of serotonin (2005).

Rosenberg et al. state

Accordingly, individuals involved in the legal system must keep in mind that domestic violence may result

However, since domestically violent individuals belong to both sexes in addition to being involved in homosexual and heterosexual relationships,

Those individuals' intrinsic structure directly influences their ontogenic development that, in return, acts on their proximate mechanisms and behaviours.

That consideration sheds light on the fact that lawyers, judges, and policymakers should dwell on sound forensic expertise involving both nativistic and deterministic approaches.

Great job!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com


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