Physical child abuse as it relates to family transactional patterns
Fischler, Michael J.
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This study was an attempt to derive an in-depth understanding of the structural and organizational aspects of the child-abusive family that contributes to the climate of abuse. The study was designed in the manner of an exploratory case-study, in which three abusive families were assessed regarding their unique familial styles of interaction and the multigenerational nature often sighted as a significant and essential factor in the dynamics and treatment of the abusive family. In addition, the study assessed the role of stress, defined in terms of life change events that require readjustment in the life styles of the abusive families under study.;Three sets of parental figures filled out two self-report scales (FACES 11 and the Social Readjustment Rating Questionnaire) and were administered an interview based on the Family Structure Questionnaire. The analysis focused on four key dimensions underlying the family systems model: Cohesion, Adaptability, Parental Coalitions and Generational Boundaries, along with assessing the number of life change events occurring twelve months prior to the abuse.;The scores for two of the three families clearly reflected dysfunctional levels on the dimension of Cohesion, in the low extreme, suggesting a highly disengaged family system. In addition, the same two families displayed highly ineffective Parental Coalitions and Generational Boundaries. While scores on the Adaptability dimension were more variable, they did suggest that the families were more likely to adhere to old patterns then alter them in response to situational or developmental changes.;While the concept of multigenerationality or repetitive family patterns was not evident in this study, the results did suggest that all but one parent perceived their families of origin as functioning within the rigid and disengaged ranges of the Adaptability and Cohesion dimensions, respectively. The results further suggested a greater dissatisfaction with families of origin then with present families.;The view that excessive changes and related stress were associated with abusive behavior was clearly supported. Overall, the results suggested a lack of emotional connectedness and an isolation that left all three families with no familial or social support. The excessive changes appeared to reflect this isolated pattern of interaction with the world.