This article discusses the problem of psychological diagnosis in sexual abuse cases. In particular, the focus is on the reliability of child victims' evidence. A diagnostic procedure minimizing the risk of diagnostic error is presented. This procedure is based on the quantitative and qualitative analysis of children s testimonies against 19 content-related criteria of the validity of the evidence.
In the submitted paper the investigations carried out at the end of 1998 and the beginning of 1999 among 46 women in shelter homes in Kraków and Wrocław will be presented. Alt these women left their places of residence and found themselves in the shelters as a result of violence of their husbands or partners. In this group of women only one was childless. The other 45 had from one to seven children. The examined mothers together were bringing up 115 children, including 54 girls and 61 boys. The main causes of their husbands' aggressive behaviour were alcoholism (87%) and mental disorders or diseases (13%). The victims suffered from various kinds of abuse: physical – hitting with objects, punching in the face, kicking, throttling, hair-pulling; verbal – humiliation, invectives, curses, quarrels and rows; emotional – threatening to kill the wife, children and oneself, isolating (locking in at home), abandonment, reducing sleep, sexual violence in the presence of children and other deeds. It is symptomatic of those men to have come from the families where alcoholism "was flourishing" (78%) and where parents used violence towards them (76%). A similar situation existed in the women's families of origin. Alcoholism of the women's parents was reported in 61% of the cases while violence was applied in as many as 85% of the cases. The women who experienced violence in their childhood often kept the aggressive behaviour of their husbands secret for too long because they thought that "it was just a part of life". The stereotype of aggressive behaviour was accepted to a high degree by the parties who then transmitted this model which had shaped them towards violence to the next generation.
The article pays attention to developmental models, both dualistic and systemic, that account for the phenomenon of incest. Results have been presented of psychological testing performed on 26 perpetrators of incestuous acts, analysed in the context of socialisation, biopsychological, situational and psychopathological-certification variables. The results have been related to the above-mentioned models.
The DSM-IV does not specify incest as a separate subclass of the paraphilias. When the forensic-psychiatric reports of 30 cases of sexual offenders were reviewed incest was determined in only 5 cases, whereas 18 cases met the diagnostic criteria for paedophilia and incest. The socio-demographic and psychiatric co-morbidity descriptions were very similar for incest offenders and paedophilic molesters. The rate of comorbidity of psychiatric disorders (mostly alcohol dependence and personality disorders) in the paedophilic offenders was high (76%).
The authors analyzed 52 forensic-psychiatric reports of child molesters. They classified paedophilia according to the diagnostic criteria of the ICD-10 and DSM-IV as well as a modified version of these criteria introduced by Beier and themselves. 48% of the paedophils had different socio-demographic characteristics from the general population of paedophils and 76% had psychiatric co-morbidity. There is no psychiatric diagnostic system and classification approved and fully validated in literature. The results support the view that the existing typologies of dissexual behaviour have limited validity. Among the paedophilic sex offenders 76% had psychiatric comorbidity.
On the basis of20 court and psychiatric opinions included in court files concerning divorce action, the writers assessed the psychosocial determinants of aggressive behaviour in the family. They found that aggressive behaviour had clear-cut determinants such as poor material conditions and poverty, often below social minimum, law education level, alcohol abuse, decreased intellectual efficiency and emotional disorders.
The effects of the mass media- movie films, television and computer games-on increased aggression and delinquency in children and adolescents is analyzed on the basis of a review of the literature. The media are purported to have four kinds of impact: catharsis, restraint, reinforcement and stimulation. The author says that the role of these patterns of aggressive behaviour ought to be considered in forensic-psychiatric diagnoses and expert opinions and also in penitentiary resocialisation programs.