How is violence defined? Violence may not have a fixed or standard definition. What constitutes violence may vary between different societies, and also between different groups in the same society during different times. The corporal punishment of children in the nineteenth century may now be considered a criminal act when compared with society’s attitudes today. Not all violence is the same, but in general, violence is aggressive behaviour with the intent to cause harm.
The word intent is central to how we comprehend harm. Both physical and psychological harm that is caused by an accident is absent of intent and is not violence. Only humans engage in hostile aggression for the purpose of harming the victim, although animals engage in aggressive behaviour the difference is motivation. Generally animals only engage in instrumental violence where aggression is only used to further an end i.e. to gain food or protect their young. Humans differ to animals as a species as we engage in both instrumental and hostile violence where the sole purpose is to harm another individual.
Research suggests that there are three theories that explain the development of violence; biological, psychological, and sociological. The biological theory implies that violence is genetic where different chemicals and hormones affect the brain and behaviour. While the psychological theory suggests that the cause of violence is due to early childhood trauma, neglect, sexual or physical abuse. Sociological theories suggest there is a link between interpersonal violence and supportive social features found within class, gender or interpersonal relations.
An alternative hotly debated topic on the development of violence in individuals is the impact of mass media. There is still no clear evidence of a link between media violence and actual violence but, A. Berger (1994) suggests that it may still be having a negative impact on society. For many years bodybuilders have been labelled as violent by the mass media due to the perception that anabolic steroids led to increased levels of aggression. Popular media have used terms like roid-rage which has been associated with the behaviour of men who display late night violence and huge mood swings and uncontrollable rage. Popular media suggests there is still a “king hit” culture in Australia which may be further complicated due to anabolic steroids and roid-rage. Although the local police in Australia believe the combination of excessive drinking and anabolic steroid has led to increased violence.
Christopher Swane - Counselling And Psychotherapy For Men - Wellington New Zealand