Criminal Psychology Chapter 7 “Syndrome Evidence” Talbot Kellogg Community College
What is a Syndrome? • A group of symptoms which occur together and characterize a disease. • Implies a consistency of symptoms. • Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) • Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS)
Fact Every 12 seconds, in the U.S., a man batters his wife or former wife. 37% of all obstetric patients are battered during pregnancy. Approximately one out of every four women seen in America’s hospital ERs was injured by her male spouse or friend. Battering is currently the leading cause of injury in American women, sending more than 1 million every year to the doctor’s office or ER. Battered Woman Syndrome
Battered Woman Syndrome • Fiction • Batterers are psychopathic personalities. • Batterers will stop once they get married. • If a batterer is not hitting the child, he/she is not hurting the child. • Police can protect the battered woman. • Drinking causes battering. • Battered women are uneducated. • Batterers are unsuccessful.
The Battered Woman Syndrome • A woman’s presumed reactions to a pattern of continual physical and psychological abuse inflicted on her by her mate. • Perhaps the most controversial topic as it relates to battered women who kill.
Components of BWS • Learned Helplessness • Lowered self-esteem • Impaired functioning • Loss of the assumption of invulnerability, optimistic outcome, and safety • Fear and Terror • Anger/ Rage • Diminished Alternatives • The cycle of abuse
The cycle of abuse • Tension-Building phase – antecedents to the abuse. • Acute battering phase – violent incident. • Contrite phase – the use of promises or gifts in order to assure the victim that the abuse has occurred for the last time.
Components of BWS Learned Helplessness Lowered self-esteem Impaired functioning Loss of the assumption of invulnerability, optimistic outcome, and safety Fear and Terror Anger/ Rage Diminished Alternatives The cycle of abuse Hypervigilance Increased tolerance for cognitive consistency.
BWS or PTSD? • Is it the same thing? • Is it different? • What does the text imply? • BWS is a subcategory of PTSD. • PTSD – A DSM – IV diagnosis • BWS - ?
FOUR PSYCHOLOGICAL STAGES OFTHE BATTERED WOMAN SYNDROMEDENIAL • DenialThe woman refuses to admit--even to herself--that she has been beaten or that there is a "problem" in her marriage. She may call each incident an "accident". She offers excuses for her husband's violence and each time firmly believes it will never happen again. • GUILTShe now acknowledges there is a problem, but considers herself responsible for it. She "deserves" to be beaten, she feels, because she has defects in her character and is not living up to her husband's expectations. • ENLIGHTENMENTThe woman no longer assumes responsibility for her husband's abusive treatment, recognizing that no one "deserves" to be beaten. She is still committed to her marriage, though, and stays with her husband, hoping they can work things out. • RESPONSIBILITYAccepting the fact that her husband will not, or can not, stop his violent behavior, the battered woman decides she will no longer submit to it and starts a new life.
PTSD • Diagnostic criteria for 309.81 Posttraumatic Stress Disorder(cautionary statement) • A. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present: • (1) the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others (2) the person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Note: In children, this may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior • B. The traumatic event is persistently reexperienced in one (or more) of the following ways: • (1) recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. Note: In young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the trauma are expressed. (2) recurrent distressing dreams of the event. Note: In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizable content. (3) acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur on awakening or when intoxicated). Note: In young children, trauma-specific reenactment may occur. (4) intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event (5) physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event
C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three (or more) of the following: • (1) efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma (2) efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma (3) inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma (4) markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities (5) feeling of detachment or estrangement from others (6) restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings) (7) sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span) • D. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by two (or more) of the following: • (1) difficulty falling or staying asleep (2) irritability or outbursts of anger (3) difficulty concentrating (4) hypervigilance(5) exaggerated startle response • E. Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in Criteria B, C, and D) is more than 1 month. • F. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. • Specify if: • Acute: if duration of symptoms is less than 3 months Chronic: if duration of symptoms is 3 months or more • Specify if: • With Delayed Onset: if onset of symptoms is at least 6 months after the stressor
BWS in the courts • Battered woman who kill. • More than 10% of the homicides in the U.S. are committed by women. A majority of these are reportedly women who kill an abusive partner (Browne and Williams, 1989).
Why do some kill and others not? • Sensitivity to danger. • Subject to more severe abuse. • Less educated. • Severity and extremity of the abuse.
Possible defenses • BWS is not a defense but part of a defense. • 2 options • Self-defense – Defined as the use of equal force necessary to repel danger when the person reasonably perceives that he or she is in imminent danger of serious bodily damage or death. • Insanity defense – An excuse of culpability due to an inability to understand right from wrong.
The Problems with BWS use as a part of a defense. • Many do not kill in the moment. • BWS is not a mental illness. • BWS may imply pathology for the battered woman. • Expert witnesses will often disagree causing the defense expert to appear more an advocate than objective observer. • Jurors’ reactions are mixed.
2006 – Shot Husband • Watched him “bleed out” • Claimed history of abuse • Sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse. • “He made me where sexy shoes.” • Feared for her daughter • Received 3 year sentence. • Did 2 months in a mental facility prior to being released. • Recently received custody of her children.
Rape Trauma Syndrome • Common responses reported by women who had been recently raped. • Acute Crisis Phase – SNS activation • Shaking and trembling • Racing hearts • Pain • Tense muscles • Increased respirations • Numbness and tingling in extremities • Denial/ Shock/ Disbelief/ Dissociation • Self-Blame • Guilt/ hostility/ blame
Rape Trauma Syndrome • Long-Term Reaction Phase • Begins 1 – 3 months following the rape. • Phobias – Classical conditioning • Disturbances in general functioning. • Sexual problems • Changes in lifestyle