Psychodynamic and cognitive contributions to the ecological model of child abuse: An abusive parent's internal perspective

Carol Ann DiPaola-Arland (1990)

Some parents who abuse their children were themselves abused as children. That history of being abused distinguishes them as a sub-population and shapes their views of themselves, of their children, and of their relationships with their children. Their history of being abused thus influences the development of an internal perspective on the parent-child relationship. This dissertation considers conceptualization of this internal perspective and its implications for intervention. The state-of-the-art theory about child abuse, the ecological model, neglects this internal perspective. Psychodynamic and cognitive perspectives, however, offer theoretical constructs capable of accounting for an internal perspective: namely, attachment theory and the internal working model; and, self-theory and deep schemata. Both viewpoints are explored regarding the conceptual frameworks they offer and the interventions they imply. Finally, meta-theoretical consideration is given to the gap in theory about internal processes. From a social constructionist point of view, this gap may reflect cultural biases about the status of "offenders", constraints of service delivery contexts, and lacking dialogue between theoretical positions. Consequently, internal processes may have been prematurely excluded from study as theory developed. This dissertation highlights the need to include an internal perspective of abusive parents abused themselves as children in future research.