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Coercive Cycles in Families

Politically, the term coercion typically refers to a process in which force or authority is used to compel certain outcomes. The coercive experience is almost always aversive, due to the infliction or threat of pain, and submissive behaviors are typical outcomes, enacted to maintain the status quo. In the larger context, the coercer usually symbolizes overwhelming power or moral authority. However, a quarter century of observation data and coding of sequential interactions in the homes of hundreds of families of typical and antisocial children have revealed the presence of a more subtle form of coercive cycle in families. Built around aversive experiences in families, the coercive cycle does not stabilize the status quo but brings about dramatic change. Typically, when engaged in the coercive ...

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