September 19, 1986

Woman Abuse: Facts Replacing Myths

Author Affiliations

Community Mental Health Council, Inc University of Illinois School of Medicine Jackson Park Hospital Chicago


by Lewis Okun, 298 pp, $44.50, paper $16.95, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1986.

JAMA. 1986;256(11):1501-1502. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380110107041

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Since family violence is a major public health problem, physicians are strongly encouraged to read this book. It shatters commonly held stereotypes about conjugal violence, most of which takes the form of woman abuse.

The author's historical overview points out how, until recently, woman abuse had been legal for over 2 1/2 millennia, which creates attitudes that pervade western society. The book provides a good review of the literature on woman abuse, covering empirical findings of various studies regarding demographics and clinical descriptions of batterers and their victims. Results on the characteristics of the assaults, intervention seeking, and treatment outcomes are also covered.

An unfavorable view of the utility of the psychoanalytic model for understanding woman abuse is given. Woman abuse is seen as being closely related to coercive control (eg, brainwashing), as both have the similar elements of the victim being a captive, confinement and abduction, projection of responsibility