Vol. 1, No. 1-2 , 1995, Page 4


Head injuries are "a significant predictor" of being a wife batterer, according to new research by Alan Rosenbaum et al.

The researchers compared the incidence of head injuries in three groups: 53 men who beat their wives, 45 happily married non-violent men, and 32 unhappily married non-violent men. (Assessments were performed by a physician unaware of the history of the participants.) They found that more than 50% of the batterers had suffered a significant head injury, compared with only 25% of the unhappily married non-violent men and 16% of the happily married non-violent men.

In almost all cases, Rosenbaum et al. note, the head injuries suffered by the wife-beaters occurred before they began abusing their spouses. "Furthermore," the researchers say, "in the 13 head- injured subjects with a history of arrest for assault and battery, the head injury preceded the assault and battery in every case." Most of the head injuries had occurred in childhood, and the most common causes were accidents, falls, and sports injuries.

Their data show, the researchers say, that "a history of significant head injury increased the chances of marital aggression almost six-fold." By comparing batterers to unhappily married non- violent men, they note, they were able to demonstrate that "the association between head injury and being a batterer was not attributable to the marital discord that is characteristic of abusive relationships." Also the incidence of alcohol use-which has been associated with both head injury and marital abuse-did not vary significantly between batterers and controls.


"Head injury in partner-abusive men," Alan Rosenbaum, Steven K. Hoge, Steven A. Adelman, William J. Warnken, Kenneth E. Fletcher, and Robert L. Kane, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 62, No. 6, 1994. Address: Alan Rosenbaum, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01655.

Related Article: [1998, Vol. 2]

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