Corsi J. El hombre golpeador. [The abusive man.] Boletín SaluCo [Bulletin of Collective Health] (Havana, Cuba) 2002; 1:7-15.

Objectives: To analyze the problem of the man who resorts to physical abuse.

Methodology: Analytical and interpretive.

Results: Historically, studies dealing with the female condition preceded those concerned with the male condition. In the same way, researchers on family violence linked themselves more quickly to the problem of women who are beaten. Only later did the need become evident to focus on the corresponding problem--that of men who beat.

Men who beat women include all those who use some form of abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual) against their wives or companions, inflicting harm (physical, psychological, social, economic, etc.). This problem was first approached via psychopathology, leading to a diagnosis of such men as psychologically ill. An attempt was made to define pathologies rooted in the personalities of these men. This approach strengthened the myth that conjugal violence is the product of an illness. This supposition remained at odds with specific research findings, which permitted a 180 degree turn in interpreting this supposed causal relationship: conjugal violence is not the effect of a psychopathological disturbance; it is the cause of a psychopathological condition. The danger in associating the behavior of a man who resorts to beating with categories of psychopathology, alcoholism, or personality defect is that this interpretation relieves him of responsibility for his conduct.

The author’s clinical experience with this type of man permits a more detailed picture. One salient characteristic of such men is the need to overcompensate for their personal insecurity, through adopting a firm, authoritarian external pose that conceals internal weakness. Any conflictive situation in the home or with their partner leads them to suspect that they could lose control of the relationship. Such a situation provokes, in this type of man, a state of great tension, so that he moves quickly to retake control by the use of force. Men who resort to beating women have a sexist outlook that in many instances is concealed by rhetoric about the equality of the sexes.

Conclusions: Treatment of these men is difficult, because they do not recognize the problem. Persistence in treatment depends a great deal on the woman’s getting effective psychological counseling, to avoid falling into the trap of the man’s attempt at reconciliation, his claim that he “is not going to repeat it.”

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico