Thought in the face of violence: a child's need

Child Abuse Negl. 2002 Mar;26(3):229-41. doi: 10.1016/s0145-2134(01)00321-0.


Objective: This article provides a clinical perspective on the combined impacts on children of spousal violence in the home and the absence of attuned parental thought that accompanies it.

Methods: This article takes the form of a commentary, drawing on clinical case studies and research literature to illustrate the child's experience of "unthinking," nonreflective parental states of mind, from the point of witnessing violence through to contact arrangements post-separation. Parallel dynamics and impacts are discussed with caregiving and legislative systems.

Results: The article suggests that "unthinking" states of mind in parents can be as damaging for a child as the overt witnessing and experiencing of violence.

Conclusions: The prevention or early overturning of unthinking states of mind, in and out of the home, greatly influences the nature of a child's recovery from domestic violence.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Child Welfare / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Domestic Violence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Spouse Abuse*
  • Thinking