Psychological Violence

Psychological Violence

Maria Gabriella Cairo (Italian Society of Victimology, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1286-9.ch004


This chapter deals with psychological violence in its most recurrent forms. The author uses the general definition of psychological violence as a starting point to then analyze its manifestations in two different contexts: the professional and private environment. This way, the author wishes to demonstrate that psychological violence is associated with the establishment of a hold, a conditioning, which makes the individual who is subjected to it incapable of recognizing it. It is a process which is developed through typical schemes and which follows a similar pattern in different contexts. The consequences for the victims are numerous. The author analyzes them through a psychosomatic approach which explains why certain diseases develop when individuals are subjected to such pressures. The author also shares the results obtained in her practise of accompanying victims.
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General Definition of Psychological Violence

Psychological violence, also known as moral violence, mental violence or emotional violence, is a form of violence or abuse against others where no direct physical violence is being deployed.

Psychological ill-treatment, therefore, corresponds to acts committed or omitted that are psychologically harmful. These acts are committed by one or more individuals, alone or together, which result in placing the victim in a position of vulnerability. The consequences can cause both immediate and long-term damage on a behavioral, cognitive, emotional, psychosomatic or physical level.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Psychosomatic Medicine: Branch of medicine that investigates the links between physical disorder and psychological factors.

Phylogenetic: From phylogenesis that means evolution of the species, this term describes diseases progression.

Cycle of Violence: Framework described by Lenore Walker in her book that explains the construction of psychological hold.

Manipulation: Obtaining from someone, by a misleading statements, a behavior that it would not have been spontaneous.

Guilt (Feeling of): Feeling of fault experienced by a person, whether it’s real or imaginary.

Directive: EU legislative text establishing goals to be attained by the European Member States.

Emotional Anchorage: Establishment of an association between an emotional and external stimulus.

Neurovegetative: Nervous system that regulates functions of the viscera and maintains vitals fell: respiration, circulation, digestion, excretion.

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