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July 17, 1996

The Batterer: A Psychological Profile

Author Affiliations

Fullerton, Calif


by Donald G. Dutton with Susan K. Golant, 209 pp, $18, ISBN 0-465-03387-3, New York, NY, BasicBooks, 1995.

JAMA. 1996;276(3):253. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540030087042

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


The Batterer is excellent. With great surgical skill, it takes us beyond describing battering behavior or victimhood to provide us with an excellent picture of the personality of the batterer.

The principal author, psychologist Donald Dutton, opines that the batterer indulges in such aggressive behavior to keep his personality intact, providing a self-fashioned autonomy. Battering helps not only to maintain a sense of being a whole person, but also to address a core problem, fear of abandonment. How ironic it is that he fears abandonment while giving his female victim a good reason for wanting to abandon him in order to preserve herself.

Dutton's profile focuses on a well-known psychiatric diagnosis, the borderline personality. Such a person continues to act out victimizing violence patterned after the battering of his mother or of himself as a child. The father is the prototype for the batterer. Dutton skillfully outlines the personality characteristics