Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another male tragedy unfolds in Belleville

By Carola Vyhnak, Urban Affairs Reporter, Toronto Star, October 5, 2010
(Police Chief's husband, David McMullan, convicted of assault against his wife, Cory, in Belleville)
“I’m ashamed for my actions and I’m sorry for what I’ve done.”

His lawyer Dick Boriss said his client hopes to reconcile with his family, “and indications are (his wife) feels the same way.”
The unemployed father, who left his job as a police officer in Peterborough when his wife was made Belleville’s police chief, had been under a lot of stress, Boriss said. He was struggling with retirement, the move to a new community and the sudden death of his best friend a few months earlier.
Even a jealous rage, wrongly believing his wife was having an affair with the city's mayor, does not justify his reprehensible actions documented both in the statement of facts before the court and in The Star report.
There simply is no justification for violence between family members.
And everyone can only hope that if the parties wish to reconcile, they are supported and sustained in the achievement of that mutual goal.
And, also, no one really understands the kind of pressure a mid-fifties male who has given up his career, and moved to a new city to support his spouse's appointment to a new position, is under. Add to that the death of a best friend, and the pop psychologists would rate his stress levels at "off the scale" of both normal and acceptable.
The Chief of Police, his wife, is now a leader in the community, while he is a 'has-been' in hockey terms. His career is trash, and he knows it. Nobody is really interested in hiring a man of that age, even with the most exemplary credentials and references. Although his children are still in their teens, he is not able to provide for them; he does not have that workplace "identity" with which he grew familiar and comfortable for the past two or three decades, and by which he defined his meaning and his purpose.
Shakespeare, in his play Othello, speaks of the "green-eyed monster" jealousy that haunts his hero, based on the false innuendo of his colleague, Iago. Othello finally can no longer stand the pressure of losing his love and wife, Desdemona, to his lieutenant, Casio. He murders her, only to learn too late that he has been misled by a jealous Iago who did not receive his desired appointment as lientenant to Othello.
Men are especially vulnerable to their (our) emotions, especially when they have so little command of the language that would help them bring those emotions to their consciousness. And for the most part, men are also unwilling to enter fully into the kinds of discussions that teachers of literature are attempting to initiate across the continent in order to bring men into contact with those deep emotions that drive their thoughts, their feelings and their impulses.
We can only hope that this man's counsellor is a male who has done the hard and deep work of unpacking his own emotions (and his own fears and his own dreams and failures and losses including his Shadow) and does not merely provide some classical conditioning to restrain "the anger" of his client. Behaviour modification is sometimes effective with adolescents whose patterns for life have not yet been fully established. However, with older men, a much deeper, and slower and perhaps even more painful approach is more likely to provide some greater likelihood of change in the way men see themselves and their relationships, including their relationship with their emotions.

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