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Battered Woman Syndrome

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Essay title: Battered Woman Syndrome

Abstract

This paper will discuss the issue of battered woman syndrome. It will discuss the pro side, presented by Attorney Douglas A. Orr and the con side, presented by Professor Joe W. Dixon. With one side arguing that battered woman syndrome is a valid defense for woman and the other side trying to prove that it is unjustifiable and that battered woman syndrome does not exist.

Battered Woman Syndrome

Battered women who claim that killing their husbands, living boy friends and even their fathers because it was the only way they could escape their abuse, have used the battered woman syndrome as their defense. Some claim that it is and should be a valid defense for a woman that has been abused but there are those who believe that it has not been accepted in the field of psychology by serious and rigorous empirical researchers and that there is no reliable means to identify who suffer from it and those who claim it as a legal defense (Dixon, 2003). In this paper the author will discuss his finding on both viewpoints, the pro side and the con side of battered woman syndrome as presented by both Douglas A. Orr and Joe W. Dixon.

There are two facts presented by the pro side that should be considered before taking any sides on this issue. The pro side states the fact that over 50 percent of all murders in occur with their partners, whether they are husband and wife or a live in boyfriend (Orr, 2003). That means that of all murders that are committed in the United States, half are family related. It is also a fact that the overwhelming majority of battering victims are women (Orr, 2003). The con side also had two facts as well that one must take into consideration on the issue of battered woman syndrome. The con side notes that there are numerous nonspecific signs or conditions that clinicians, are biased towards battered woman syndrome, will read in the report of a woman relating a history of battering thus concluding the woman is suffering from battered woman syndrome. The clinical error or trap lies in the fact that these signs are commonly seen in variety of conditions and none are specifically tied to battered woman syndrome (Dixon, 2003). Another valid fact that the con side state is that courts are increasingly ordering women claiming this defense to undergo psychological evaluations, because there is no reliability, no validity or trustworthy diagnosis to determine who does and who does not suffer with battered woman syndrome (Dixon, 2003).

Even though opinions are not credible each side states two opinions each that are very worth noting and should also be thought about as a decision is made in choosing a side. Pro side states that because men wrote the law of self-defense, the law has a tendency to disadvantage woman because it is meant for men (Orr, 2003). Unfortunately there is no way possible to prove that it is true. It also states those women are at a fundamental disadvantage to claim self-defense because they cannot respond to an attack of a man with the same equal force that is being applied on her (Orr, 2003). The other side of the coin also presents their own opinions worth noting. One is that because of poor grounded efforts of just a handful of clinicians, there may have been harm done to the reputation of the science of psychology (Dixon, 2003). The second opinion is that battered woman syndrome has become a psychological-styled diagnosis, in which the woman's suppose illness induced by a battering husband has become the focus but the focus might better remain on the woman herself with the traditional legal defenses proffered, such as self-defense (Dixon, 2003).

Like there are facts and opinions on both sides of the issue, there are also problems on both sides with their presentations. A big problem that faces the pro side is that there is no scientific proof or research that battered woman syndrome exists. Without any real proof of its existence established or accepted in the field of psychology by serious researchers, women who kill should be treated by the courts with the existing laws that have served us well for so long (Dixon, 2003). The problem for the con side is that it states that battered woman syndrome might exists, contradicting what he is trying to prove, and that is that it does not exits.

Propaganda plays a big role in any issue and in the case of battered woman syndrome it is no different. The pro side used a technique called the transfer technique. Because transfer technique is a device by which the propagandist carries over the authority, sanction, and prestige of something we respect, such as the law and life and revere to something he would have us accept, such as killing in self-defense. The con side used a technique called bad science, through out the presentation the con side states that there is no way to identify

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