Human Factors involved in working as a judge
(This theme arose from incisive comments made by MoMA, in the post about Child Neglect Bomb in the Brain. I thought that this issue is one of the critical issues that would need to be addressed, if the familycaught$ was to be successfully functional and serve NZers.)
Wed 15th June 2016 at 11:46 am (Edit)
Brutalisation in familycaught$
About 12 years ago I was sailing across Cook Straight. I was chatting to the lady next to me… Somehow in conversation it came up that she had been a social worker for CYFs.
She told me about how her work as liaison with familycaught$ led to hearing many stories of violence, some believable and some not. She enjoyed the work, trying to resolve family issues. But she found that after a few years she would slip into treating her husband harshly, competitively and at times even cruelly. She would vow to snap out of it. She felt that she could stop it and could, for a few months.
Wider topic – psychological trauma
What scared her was that when she noticed that she had started again, she would realise that she had actually been behaving like that for some time, days, a few weeks, perhaps even over a month. Her husband hadn’t complained as such, but he was responding by retreating into his shell, away from her. She did not want him to see her in that way and considered that her job was threatening her marriage.
She looked around for other jobs, but nothing she could find came near to matching her existing pay. After nearly two years of this and seeing the problem only getting slowly worse, she decided that her marriage was worth far more than the last few dollars of salary. She cut her pay expectations and soon had a different job.
Her other comment intrigued me. Along the way, she had noticed that in the informal times at familycaught$, the judges especially spoke of fathers mainly in deprecating terms, even nonhuman. She felt it was quite unbalanced and surprising in that many were men themselves. The sames was less true for lawyers, who in the main were younger.
On thinking back to what she said, I recalled one of the judges commenting in a newspaper article that hearing stories of violence didn’t affect judges’ judgement. He confidently asserted that they are “professionals” and are immune to being affected by what they hear.
I am not a counsellor. But I am aware that most counsellors have regular debriefing sessions, to help protect them from being damaged by vicarious trauma. Perhaps the judge felt that they had the sensitivity of a lump of concrete? I am guessing that a judge’s cortisol response to vicarious trauma is just as delicate as a counsellor’s. But the judges lacked the knowledge of how to protect themselves from vicarious traumatisation and the wisdom or self awareness. Macho gone far wrong, male or female.
This might go some way towards explaining how judges can make comments about fathers should be more involved in children’s lives, but in secret caughtroom$ be doing everything they can to be the barrier.
Ministry of Men’s Affairs says:
Thu 16th June 2016 at 10:07 am (Edit)
Murray (#122): Interesting comment. It’s probably true that the lack of supportive debriefing for judges about nasty stuff results in pent-up emotions that become redirected towards others who don’t deserve this. Unfortunately for men this is compounded by natural and/or social bias towards protecting females, such that nasty stuff when done or said by men towards women elicits much stronger disgust than when done by women towards men, and men’s expressed suffering about their treatment at the hands of women does not elicit as much empathy as the vice-versa. This results in mental associations for judges (and lawyers, police etc) between their anger/disgust feelings and the male persona in proportions considerably greater than would reflect the reality of what they were exposed to.
Further compounding this is the fact that judges, lawyers, police, social workers etc are exposed heavily to feminist, male-bashing propaganda through training, seminars and organizational relationships. Family Court Principal Judge Boshier frequently swanned around feminist conferences and hosted feminist groups to address his judges but refused totally to allow men’s groups a voice. This form of indoctrination encourages and increases the tendency to transfer all disgust and anger on to men generally and to transfer all empathy and concern on to women generally.
A related issue is workers’ own ego defence. Men, due to ‘protector’ genetic inheritance and social role expectations, are more likely than women to express their anger and to direct aggressive counter-attacks towards others who threaten their family, interests and personal status. A man is more likely to tell the social worker to “fuck off and mind your own business”, more likely to tell the Lawyer for Child to “stop brainwashing and misrepresenting my children you asshole”, and more likely to show his disgust towards the judge who sanitizes everything the female litigant did wrong and exaggerates everything he did wrong. Few people, unless they specifically work on their reactions and develop necessary skills through competent guidance and support, are able to maintain objective consideration of the evidence, issues and children’s interests that is not distorted by their (counter-transference) reactions towards the male who threatens their status like that. Again, the tendency to be protective towards females means that such indignant, ego-defensive reactions are less strong when females speak or behave disrespectfully towards the officials. This phenomenon results commonly in sexist injustice, for example, in vendettas by CYF social workers against individual male ‘clients’ who offended them.
I (mcb) recall about 2006 seeing judge Rhys Harrison become angry, when a self representing father implied he was corrupt. For a couple of minutes judge Harrison appeared to be becoming more and more angry in a narcissistic rage. I was just becoming extremely concerned for the father, when judge Harrison snapped out of it and the hearing continued normally and properly. In essence, there was no particular problem caused, but it did show to me how easily human factors could run completely off the rails. This is why having a working and effective complaints system is so important, rather than a non-working illusion as at present.
MoMA referred to feminist training of judges: Feminist Training for legal worker$
It has all been a bit too serious so far, so a bit of lighter amusement by bloodsport: