Spirals of violence : mothers and children
The aim of this thesis is to investigate mothers' use of violence towards their children. In particular it aims to discover what happens during violent incidents, to explain the occurrence of violence and to develop a model which assists in the understanding of violence in families. Four case studies are presented based on observations of mothers and children within a treatment centre and interviews with the mothers. Initial interviews were conducted concerning the background, relationships and attitudes of the mothers. Subsequent interviews to examine incidents of violence were conducted at the end of a day when such an incident may have occurred. For each dyad characteristic augmenting spirals of interaction are described which include violence towards the child. These spirals form the basis of a "spiral model of violence" which emphasises the role of both mother and child in maintaining violent interactions and the feedback each receives from the other. The other main components of this model are the dyad's appraisals of the situation and choices of action. Factors affecting these are described. Implications of the model for treatment are discussed with particular exmphasis on strategies aimed at altering, or widening the range of appraisals and actions of both participants.