James Garbarino on the connection between adult violence & childhood trauma

Here’s a brief excerpt to give you the flavour.

James Garbarino is a psychologist, a writer, and a professor at Loyola University in Chicago, who has spent years working with men convicted of violent crimes. His (experiential and evidenced) perspective is intelligent, humane and compassionate:-

“I do a lot of work with men on death row, murder cases, imprisoned men, and what I’ve come to see them as, mostly, is untreated, traumatized children inhabiting the bodies of often very scary men.”

Anyone who has seen a small child expressing rage in public will readily imagine the results, if you advance that child 20 years in the context of childhood traumas of one kind or another – without offering them the support that might be needed for healing or maturation processes – and then hand them a gun….

Fundamentally, James responds to these violent men not as dehumanized objects or monsters, but as people, with reasons for how they act – however destructive that may be to themselves or others. His take on the roots and causes of violent behaviour parallels Gabor Mate’s work on addictive/compulsive behaviour. This approach makes sense to the writer, resonates at a heart level, and seems far more likely to be societally fruitful than the prevailing models of fault, blame and demonization (whilst warehousing or killing those convicted in a form of collective scapegoating for a phenomenon in which we are complicit as cultures).

Here’s the full interview (plus there is lots of other good stuff on psychalive):-


And here is James’ book:-


Thanks to Brent Potter on Facebook, and the Students of Humanistic Psychology page, for putting us onto James’ work and writing:-


Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994


This entry was posted in 'evil', abuse, accountability, anger, blaming, childhood abuse, civil rights, compulsive behaviour, conditions of worth, criminal justice model, cultural questions, Disconnection, empathy, empowerment, encounter, ethics, Gabor Mate, generational trauma, growing up, growth, James Garbarino, kindness & compassion, objectification, political, power and powerlessness, relationship, scapegoating, self concept, shadow, shaming, trauma, trust, violence and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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