WHY DO PEOPLE STAY IN HATEFUL RELATIONSHIPS? THE CONCEPT OF MALIGNANT VINDICTIVENESS

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Abstract

Why do couples remain in hateful relationships? This article defines theoretically rigorous ways of viewing partners who stay together despite severe strife. A case presentation shows how a relationship of two people, each with his or her character structure and idealized image, creates interpersonal conflict because of opposing demands each makes on self and other. Such conflict requires radical defensive measures including alienation, idealization, and externalization that increase tensions. A vicious circle of malignant vindictiveness cements the relationship. Increasing implacability in the relationship is understood through Horneyan categories of interlocking idealized images, hurt pride reactions, and the externalizing process.

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