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Why Won’t They Learn: Unconscious Underpinnngs of Corporal Punishment
The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child  (IF0.089),  Pub Date : 2020-01-01, DOI: 10.1080/00797308.2020.1690868
Jack Novick, Kerry Kelly Novick

ABSTRACT Decades of research have demonstrated unequivocally that physical punishment is harmful to children and leads to later negative outcomes. Yet over 80% of parents in the United States continue to spank, and 30% of psychologists support spanking. This paper examines why there is such a disparity between knowledge and the behavior of legalized violence against children. The authors suggest that violence against children serves multiple unconscious functions that feel necessary to the psychological survival of the perpetrator. It is a manifestation of a powerful defensive motivation to maintain a sadomasochistic, “closed system” response to helplessness experienced by adults. The authors describe some interventions that carry the hope of change.