Traditional analyses of domestic battery often point to the batterer's need for power and control to explain patterns of violent behavior. Offering a nonjudgmental and compassionate view of the interior life of the batterer, Intimate Violence moves beyond this explanation and transforms our understanding of the psychic origins of abuse. The book is divided into three main sections. The first assesses psychoanalytic understanding of the inner mechanisms of the batterer's violent behavior toward close family members, pointing to disruptions in the abuser's "narcissistic equilibrium." The second section looks more broadly at the ideas of "batterer" and "victim," and the ways these categories and the social stigma and support accorded respectively may impede healing and resolution. The third section addresses various treatment methods that promise permanent changes in batterers' behavior.
Intimate Violence also deals frankly with the dynamics of the therapist/client relationship in battery cases, particularly transference and countertransference. How do therapists deal with feelings of revulsion for the batterer's behavior, or for the batterer him- or herself? How do they resist the very human urge within themselves to punish their clients? Scalia persuasively argues that these issues subtly undermine counseling, causing resistance to develop within both parties, and that a new approach to therapy is needed. His analysis suggests that "emotional communication" in the context of prolonged and deep psychoanalysis enables patient and practitioner alike to transcend cycles of recrimination and defensiveness.