Disruptions in the Separation-Individuation Process of Domestically Violent Men: An Empirical Examination of Mahler's Theory

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domestic violence, separation-individuation, Margaret Mahler


In the past twenty-five years, domestic violence has emerged as a significant social issue for research and theory development. This paper proposes an examination of domestic violence through the lens of Margaret Mahler's separation-individuation theory of development. This paper examines the existing empirical literature of domestically violent men using Mahler's theory of development. The paper then discusses the results from an empirical examination of the hypothesis that men who batter evidence disruptions in the separation-individuation process. This study has implications for treatment of domestically violent men, and suggests that interventions should include models that develop insight into the effects from developmental ruptures.


This article was originally published as Zosky, D. (2005). Disruptions in the separation-individuation process of domestically violent men: An empirical examination of Mahler’s theory. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 12 (4), 43-60.