Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Toughest Job In the World

Studies show that ten to thirty percent of young students engage in bullying behavior.  These behaviors are associated with anger, poor interpersonal relationships, and reduced quality of life -- for the bullies, that is.  It's not so nice for the rest of us, either.  

There is hope, however.  Marius Nickel, from the Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine, has completed a study (free registration required) that shows a positive effect from family therapy.  That is, instead of trying to get the bully to engage in individual therapy, it is possible to obtain the desired effect by treating the entire family.
"The results of this study show that outpatient family therapy seems to be an effective method of reducing anger and improving interpersonal relationships and health-related quality of life in male youths with bullying behavior," the authors write. "This study indicates that even bullying boys can cope well with outpatient family therapy. The clear time frame and the relatively minimal time commitment boosted compliance."
Like all studies, this study has certain limitations.  The authors take care to point out:
Study limitations include relatively small sample size, sample consisting only of male youths, sample composed of moderately aggressive individuals who had not engaged in criminal conduct and who still had the resources to enter therapy, study duration of only six months, and relatively select population.
Now, the plan is to repeat the study with bullies of both genders, a different age group, and those with a history of criminal conduct.  This will be a much more difficult group to treat.  It probably will take more than six months.

In other news, James Coburn stars in the film, The President's Analyst.
Bizarre satire lampooning espionage flicks. James Coburn is a psychiatrist asked to take on the President of the United States as a client. The secrets told during the sessions unnerve him, and finally he finds himself in a real espionage plot -- or is it just his imagination? The parody ultimately works well, but it takes a mind that's both patient and clever enough to pick up on the subtleties to endure the weirder parts of the film.