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In Violent Emotions, Retzinger explores the role of hidden alienation and shame as the source of repetitious cycles of conflict. Theories and research from large-scale conflict, marital disputes, and communication processes are reviewed and provide a background for a new integrative theory developed by the author. In testing her theory of prolonged conflict, Retzinger utilizes complex verbal and nonverbal coding schemes, identifies specific emotions within the context of marital disputes, and points out recurring patterns preceding the escalation of an argument. She provides exemplars of how this theory works through an intensive analysis of conflict exchange in four case studies and uses vivid descriptions to illustrate important points about communication in intimate relationships. Violent Emotions provides much needed data that will be useful for preventive ...

Randy and Karin: Repeated Escalation
Randy and Karin: Repeated escalation

Under stress …, great gaps open…. Abruptly the wires are down and the nervous pulse under the skin is laid bare in mutual incomprehension. (Steiner, 1981, p. 44)

The tape of Karin and Randy was used in a study by Gottman and Levenson; it was lent to me by Robert Levenson (personal communication, 1986). I have little background information on this couple. What I gathered from their conversation is that they are both in their 30s, he is a college student, an artist and sculptor, and she is employed as a manager. They are white and appear to be lower middle-class.

Both Randy and Karin are unhappy with their relationship; each is destructive toward the other. Many external ...

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