August 6, 2015

Breaking New Ground

Derner Student Fallon Kane News Photo

Fallon Kane beat stiff competition to win a 2015 student poster award from the American Psychological Association.

Each year at its annual convention, the American Psychological Association Division 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology) selects just five student posters to be honored with the prestigious blue ribbon. Usually, the award-winners are graduate students. That is why Fallon Kane, an undergraduate at Adelphi University, was stunned when she learned that her poster had been chosen for a 2015 award. The external recognition further validates what others at Adelphi have been saying about her groundbreaking research on the links between dependent personality disorder in men and their propensity toward domestic violence.

Kane, a dual psychology and criminal justice major, teamed up with Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies Professor Robert Bornstein, Ph.D., a leading authority on dependency and her mentor in Derner’s Emerging Scholars Program, to conduct the research. They undertook a meta-analysis of 17 studies on the relationship between dependency and domestic violence in men.

“This research is so significant because dependency and dependent personality disorder are highly misunderstood and underestimated mental disorders, both in laymen’s views and clinical lore,” Kane said. “Most people (including clinicians) tend to think of a dependent person as passive, eager-to-please individuals. Passivity is only a small, situationally dependent aspect of dependency. In reality, a dependent person will do whatever it takes to create or maintain a relationship, including both active and passive behaviors. This research shows that dependent persons can be the performers of destructive interpersonal crime, and understanding this will help researchers and clinicians better be able to identify those at-risk for perpetration of domestic violence, and thus take the appropriate preventative measures.”

With Dr. Bornstein’s mentorship, Kane spent months analyzing prior studies and wrote what Dr. Bornstein called “an exceptionally strong paper summarizing the results.”

For the poster, Kane summarized the 17 studies. “Fitting it all onto the poster was a matter of being ruthless,” she said. Her mother, a pre-K teacher, urged her to add color to spice it up.

Kane entered the poster for a student award but had little thought that she would win, noting that “it was clear that the award was mostly geared towards grad students.”

She was caught off guard when the email arrived telling her that she had won the APA award. She and her mom drove from New York to Toronto for the APA annual convention and award ceremony on August 6 and 7, 2015. It was their first time outside of the United States.

“It has been an incredibly enriching experience, and I am so grateful for it,” Kane said of her research and recognition.


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