What drives a father to kill?

Does this sound like the guy is trying to rationalize a father’s violence or be sympathetic to it? Kinda creepy.

What drives a father to kill?

The typical profile of a family annihilator is a middle-aged man, a good provider who appears dedicated, devoted and loyal to his family. However, he is usually quite socially isolated, with few friends and with profound feelings of frustration and inadequacy. The tipping point is some catastrophic loss or impending tragedy that threatens to undermine his sense of self and amplifies his feelings of impotence and powerlessness. In individuals for whom their family is an integral part of their identity – part of themselves, rather than a separate being – murdering the family is akin to a single act of suicide. It is a way of regaining control; of obliterating the impending crisis. This explains why men will often not only kill their partner and children, but also pets and destroy their property by setting fires. It is an eradication of everything that constitutes the self.

In addition to this, they are often motivated by bitterness and anger and a desire to punish the spouse; while killing the partner is an act of revenge, killing the children is an act of love as he believes he – and therefore they – will be better off dead than face the imminent loss of power.

While this points to severe psychological problems with underlying personality issues and maladaptive coping strategies, this, in itself, does not necessarily constitute a mental illness. However, professionals are divided as to whether these men can be held truly culpable for their actions. For the few that survive, jurors tend to find them responsible for their actions and therefore guilty of murder, but some end up detained in secure psychiatric hospitals indefinitely.

Experts, such as Jack Levin, Professor of Sociology and Criminology at the Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts who has studied family annihilators, have argued that they typically do know right from wrong and points to the fact that they are well planned and selective and that if a friend came along, the father wouldn’t kill him or her – instead, he kills his children to get even with his wife because he blames her and hates her.

Others, such as Tony Black, former chief psychologist at Broadmoor, are more circumspect. Black has argued that for anyone to commit such a heinous crime, there must be something fundamentally wrong with them and it is unhelpful just to simply think of them as ‘bad’. But what can be done to prevent such atrocities? Is there the possibility of intervention before such murders take place or ways to identify at risk men?

Scott Mackenzie, a consultant forensic psychiatrist in Essex who has assessed family annihilators for the criminal justice system, feels that often there are underlying anti-social personality traits and fundamental issues with rage and anger management. But these psychological traits are not uncommon in the population, and most will never go on to murder their family. ‘Those who act are often angry and resentful individuals. There is often a prior pattern of domestic abuse. But predicting with any reliability who will suddenly flip and resort to this kind of behaviour is incredibly difficult, if not near impossible. After any such incident there are inevitably questions asked if anything could be done, if someone could have intervened or spotted the signs. Tragically, in most cases, the answer is no.’

Wrong answer! Here is how we prevent it:

  • Look for the red flags (anger, resentment, abuse, control, coercion)
  • Take threats seriously
  • Believe women when they express fear
  • Do NOT provide leniency in domestic violence
  • Treat domestic violence like other crimes
  • Educate society on domestic violence (myths vs. reality)
  • Don’t be silent about abuse – it can lead to shame, victim blaming, tolerance for this crime
  • Change how the media present stories – the “nice guy”‘ murders wife – does not provide the context to understand DV
  • Change the culture – violence against women is not inevitable

 

Media and honor crimes

Haven’t had a chance to read this yet, but it looks interesting:

Religion, Culture and the Politicalization of Honour-Related Violence

The authors suggest that policy responses will be effective only insofar as gendered violence is understood within its social, cultural and political context and if that context is not seen as foreign but rather as part of the new social relations in the immigrant-receiving society. Hence, they argue that honour-related violence needs to be understood not as a “cultural” or “religious” problem that afflicts particular immigrant communities (in this case, often those perceived and represented as Muslim) but as a specific manifestation of the larger problem of violence against women (which concerns all communities, whether immigrant or not) that in the case of immigrant communities is shaped and informed by the immigration experience. Only a contextually specific approach allows for this understanding.

Misogyny in the USA, Men bounce back from the “mancession” & Media-driven body dissatisfaction

The following links come from an email alert from The Women’s Media Center.

Misogyny Cuts Across All Cultures: Oppression in the West and Arab World
2/20/2011
Huffington Post:Are women in the Arab world “worse-off” than in the West? An editorial examines the ways in which oppression and misogyny cut across every culture, and how media handles the issue.

Excerpt:

I do not want to live in a country that forces me to smother myself in veils, a country that threatens me with violence for an inch of visible wrist, a country that does not allow me to vote or drive.

For the record, I also do not feel safe in a country with a House of Representatives that is capable of canceling all funding for Planned Parenthood — which happened in the House just a day ago. I do not feel safe knowing that in South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care to women.

The state legislature of Georgia would like to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking and domestic violence to “accuser” — in effect, denying victims their right to accurate representation by description.

In Congress, Republicans have put forward a bill that would force hospitals to let a woman die rather than perform an abortion that would save her life.

Programs for low-income women and children are being slashed left and right and MoveOn reports that there is a move to eliminate all funding for the only extant federal family planning program — though there is a bill that promotes contraception for wild horses. (For human women, they are neigh-sayers.)

Misogyny keeps this country’s brutality to women — rape, murder and domestic violence — at staggering levels, along with the pitched battle against a woman’s right to control her own body, her right to choose.

That women often do not support each other or offer sympathy for abusive treatment of other women is indeed part of the problem — witness the reaction of some female journalists to the attack on Lara Logan.

Men bounce back faster from recession’s unequal blows
2/21/2011
Miami Herald: After the recession of the late 2000s, the early stages of the economic recovery are benefitting men far more than women. While men have gained438,000 jobs since June 2009, women have lost 366,000 over the same period.

African-American Women Less Vulnerable to Media-Driven Body Dissatisfaction
2/21/2011
University of Florida News: As National Eating Disorders Awareness Week gets underway, a University of Florida researchers emphasizes a 2010 study that shows African-American women are less susceptible to pressure from mainstream media about their body image.