Under-recognized psychological aggression

mathias-sager-psychological-aggression

Summary

Aggression respectively violence both can be exerted physically or psychologically. It is of concern that psychological aggression is regarded as less negative than physical aggression, although victims’ experiences show that psychological aggression causes more emotional harm. Furthermore, aggressive behavior from males is recognized as more damaging than when coming from females, having its explanation in stereotypes of the forceful male and fragile female gender. Therefore, it is important to invest more into the difficult detection and prevention of psychological aggression and its resulting psychological harm and to promote gender inclusiveness.

Psychological aggression

Aggression respectively violence both can be exerted physically or psychologically. Gomez and Montesino (2014) studied bidirectional aggression and found that in four out of five cases there is psychological aggression involved, while one out of four couples used some form and severity (mostly moderate severity) of physical aggression. Psychological aggression comprises actions like talking somebody down, intimidation, and over-control or dominance (Arriaga & Schkeryantz, 2015). Although non-violent, high levels of coercion, for example, imposed by parents onto their children, can lead the children into relative disapproving and isolating situation (Katz, 2016). The more attached, respective fearful of losing attachment, someone is, the more likely dysfunctional behavior to control the desired subject is shown (McDermott, Cheng, Lopez, McKelvey, & Bateman, 2016). Despite the fact that higher attachment is attributed to women, McDermott et al. (2016) are careful in confirming the impression of their findings that psychological aggression may be more usual for females than males and they point to the need for further research.

It is of concern that psychological aggression is regarded as less negative than physical aggression, although victims’ experiences show that psychological aggression causes more emotional harm (Hammock, Richardson, Verlaque, Lamm, & Taylor, 2016), as given some examples before. Also, Wang, Wang, and Liu (2016) report that among any aggression and punishment, mothers’ and fathers’ use of psychological aggression was the strongest trigger of children’s anxiety. Hammock, Richardson, Williams, and Janit (2015) describe the result from physical aggression as threat and scare and the one from psychological harm as hurt and humiliation. Furthermore, Hammock et al. (2016) found that aggressive behavior from males is recognized as more damaging than when coming from females, having its explanation in stereotypes of the forceful male and fragile female gender. Often, psychological aggression is not recognized, especially not when coming from a close relationship.

Implication

Therefore, it is important to invest more into the difficult detection and prevention of psychological aggression and its resulting psychological harm and to promote gender inclusiveness. Focusing psychological aggression may also fight physical aggression at its roots, as psychological aggression can act as a forerunner of physical aggression (Graham-Kevan & Archer, 2008).

 

References

Arriaga, X. B., & Schkeryantz, E. L. (2015). Intimate Relationships and Personal Distress: The Invisible Harm of Psychological Aggression. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(10), 1332-1344. doi:10.1177/0146167215594123

Gomez, J., & Montesino, M. (2014). Prevalence of psychological and physical intimate partner aggression in Madrid (Spain): A dyadic analysis. Psicothema, 26(3), 343-348.

Graham-Kevan, N., & Archer, J. (2008). Does Controlling Behavior Predict Physical Aggression and Violence to Partners?. Journal Of Family Violence, 23(7), 539-548.

Hammock, G. )., Richardson, D. )., Verlaque, L. )., Lamm, K. )., & Taylor, E. ). (2016). The Effect of Gender of Perpetrator and Victim on Perceptions of Psychological and Physical Intimate Partner Aggression. Journal Of Family Violence, 1-9. doi:10.1007/s10896-016-9850-y

Hammock, G., Richardson, D., Williams, C., & Janit, A. (2015). Perceptions of Psychological and Physical Aggression Between Heterosexual Partners. Journal Of Family Violence, 30(1), 13-26.

Katz, E. (2016). Beyond the Physical Incident Model: How Children Living with Domestic Violence are Harmed By and Resist Regimes of Coercive Control. Child Abuse Review, 25(1), 46-59. doi:10.1002/car.2422

McDermott, R., Cheng, H., Lopez, F., McKelvey, D., & Bateman, L. (2016). Dominance Orientations and Psychological Aggression in College Student Relationships: A Test of an Attachment Theory-Guided Model. Psychology Of Violence, doi:10.1037/vio0000061

Wang, M., Wang, X., & Liu, L. (2016). Research article: Paternal and maternal psychological and physical aggression and children’s anxiety in China. Child Abuse & Neglect, 5112-20. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.11.018

About mathias sager

Thinking and writing for happiness, painting colorfully, and enabling personal growth for all. Fostering co-operative and humanitarian principles, economic and social equality, as well as environmental sustainability. Using broad international experience and progressive, egalitarian and global outlook to promote care for the next generation.

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2 Responses to Under-recognized psychological aggression

  1. Patty says:

    Yes, psychological aggression is definitely more harmful.
    Do I understand correct, that women ‘practice’ this more than men?

    • Thanks, Patty, for your comment. Yes, absolutely, as long as there is no severe physical violence involved. Regarding your question: There is a peer reviewed study indicating that, however, there needs to be further research to confirm a definitive conclusion.Across literature, what seems to be clear to me is that female aggression was under-reported so far and views were more feminist motivated, why aggression appeared to be a too one-sided masculine thing. I will follow-up on that as research progresses. All the best!

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