The Misbegotten Marriage of Soft Psychology and Bad Law: Psychological Self-Defense as a Justification for Homicide

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Argues that the defense of "psychological self-defense" proposed by C. P. Ewing is better characterized as an excuse than as a justification for battered women who kill their batterers, because rational victims of purely psychological abuse do have socially preferable alternatives to homicide. The proposal seems to be inconsistent with modern criminal law that limits justifications for homicide. The defense would create substantial administrative problems and would facilitate adoption or expansion of related undesirable doctrines. The best response to abhorrent physical and psychological abuse is not unnecessary further violence, but the creation of adequate deterrents and alternative solutions for victims.

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Law and Human Behavior