Below are psychological factors that play a role in maintaining the status quo and enabling it to mushroom. Until we as a human group are able to build resources to work with our feelings (Eigen, Feeling Matters, 2008), no amount of social reform will be sufficient. The problems listed are endemic to human nature, family, groups, individual, national, organizational.
1. Fear of the psyche, of emotional reality.
2. The belief that one knows what reality is, including emotional reality, with a consequent defensive stance with regard to one's system, emotional, mental and social.
3. Hatred of the complexities of growing emotionally in a fuller way. Insofar as material growth is substituted for emotional growth, the psyche that is able to handle material expansiveness fails to exist.
4. Habit. Children are easy targets, so are spouses—they are near at hand, exert pressure, cause stress and bring out the stress fractures in one's personality. Part of habit is the inability to tolerate frustration of close impacts, or perhaps most impacts that challenge one's rigid or shaky "homeostasis" (the way one has gotten organized as a person).
5. In my book Rage I note that a sense of being "right" has caused more damage in history than most other attitudes. Robert Fliess early called attention to the sense of self-righteousness in the child abuser. A sense of being right justifies many kinds of violence. Being right to invade Iraq because of its weapons of mass destruction; being right to cleanse a child of a devil by beating the devil out of it; a sense of being wronged by one's spouse "justifies" rageful violence. The sense of feeling "right"—I am the only God, a possessive God, have no others before you, especially not yourself—is an important part of human nature. Often perpetrators are traumatized traumatizers who fear encroachment, seek to even the score, "right" things. This "right", I think, has a delusional aspect which mates with hallucinating something negative about the other that needs "righting". It is a tendency that may be built into personality, mind, cells, a kind of rigid-fragile neural "homeostasis". It is also part of the national rhetoric, part of the "we". I found another piece of "delusional hallucinating" in some rape perpetrators, who felt the person they raped was loving them (the people of Iraq would cheer us as heroes.). These rapists imagined being loved for their violence, which they felt an expression of fusional need. They experienced what they were doing, in some regard, as very soft and life-giving. There are myriad variations of this story, this structure.
6. Premature jumping to action on the basis of very incomplete information or misinformation, or outright lies to support one's wishes, drives, needs, hopes, ambitions—whether individually or part of a group. In The Psychotic Core (2004, Karnac Books) I described this as "miscalculation from the viewpoint of omniscience." Thinking you know something you don't and preemptively acting on it. This was one of the horrible possibilities of the "cold war". Now we see outright manipulation of psychotic anxieties (annihilation fears, dread of loss) in high places, psychopathic manipulation of fear and anger on a large scale.
7. The need to be number one—which is a delusion.
8. The need to maintain one's delusional system of being a certain kind of person with certain kinds of beliefs. Or the power of one's country vis a vis all other countries—a boss model, rather than a partnership model.
9. Economic political interests in the case of war, invasion, co-option of others' goods or properties in some way (melded in a delusional, calculating fashion with ethical proscriptions like "thou shalt not steal, envy, covet, murder"—ethical proscriptions used as a mask for doing exactly what is proscribed).
One wonders why real talk and work involving social and familial violence is considered off the mark, even off the table. Perhaps this is, partly, because addressing such violence would bring to the fore problems adhering to national violence, economic violence, which are whisked off center stage. Yes, but even if this were somehow addressed, the problem is ultimately one of our makeup, a psychical element, insufficiency in the face of our emotional life.