Parental personality factors in child abuse

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Studied whether abusing parents differ from nonabusing parents in personality variables by administering the Michigan Screening Profile of Parenting to 6 groups of mothers: (a) adjudicated abusers, (b) spouses of adjudicated abusers, (c) mothers convicted of child neglect, (d) nonabusing mothers from a college student population, (e) nonabusing mothers from a middle socioeconomic level, and (f) nonabusing mothers from a lower socioeconomic level. 107 Ss were studied, all of whom had at least one child under 5 yrs of age. Major differences occurred when comparison was made of 1 or more of the 1st 3 groups with 1 of the latter 3 groups. The groups differed significantly on 6 factor-analyzed cluster categories: (a) relationship to one's own parents, (b) tendency to becoming upset and angry, (c) tendency toward isolation and loneliness, (d) expectations of one's own children, (e) inability to separate parental and child feelings, and (f) fear of external threat and control. In all of the cases, the 1st 3 groups scored at levels of higher risk than did the latter 3 groups, whereas the abusers scored at the highest risk levels throughout. It is suggested that a therapist who helps a parent develop the ability to maintain equanimity under stress, by helping reduce deviations from the norm in characteristics related to abuse potential, is ultimately helping to reduce actual abusive behavior. (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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