UBC Theses and Dissertations
Wife assault, patterns of male attachment and intimate conflict behaviours: a study of fifty men Saunders, Keith Donald
The purpose of this preliminary and exploratory research project was to identify possible links between insecure male attachment patterns and wife assault. Attachment theory suggests that the quality of early interpersonal relationships has a profound effect on the psychological, emotional and social development of the individual. Insecure attachment has been found to be associated with a number of relationship problems and these interpersonal problems have also been identified with men who assault their wives. Based on this similarity, the insecure attachment paradigm may offer a useful theoretical orientation for understanding the conflict behaviours of men who assault their wives. The sample of fifty adult men who had assaulted their female partners was drawn from two therapy groups. In this preliminary and exploratory study, a number of measures were used to assess each man's mental representation of childhood attachment and his adult intimate attachment patterns, intimate conflict tactics and interpersonal jealousy and anger problems. The associations between insecure preoccupied, dismissing, and fearful attachment pattern ratings and male conflict tactic and relationship problems were then analyzed. The findings indicated that men who assault their wives had a high proportion of insecure adult intimate attachment patterns. These assaultive men were also found to be predominantly insecure in both their mental representations of childhood attachment and adult intimate attachment pattern ratings, with the greatest continuity occurring with the insecure preoccupied and fearful pattern ratings. Three patterns of relationship problems corresponding to the three insecure adult intimate attachment pattern rating were found. Preoccupied attachment pattern ratings were positively correlated with interpersonal jealousy scores and the reported use of the reasoning, verbal/symbolic abuse, physical abuse and severe physical abuse conflict tactics. Dismissing attachment pattern ratings were positively correlated with interpersonal anger scores and negatively correlated with the reasoning, verbal, physical and severe physical abuse conflict tactics. Fearful attachment pattern ratings were similar to the dismissing pattern in the positive correlation with interpersonal anger scores. The importance of considering insecure adult intimate attachment pattern ratings when providing group therapy to men who assault their wives was considered. Men with high insecure dismissing adult intimate attachment pattern ratings seem to require a distinctly different therapeutic approach than those with high insecure preoccupied adult intimate attachment pattern ratings and ideas in this regard are discussed.
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