Baylor Professor to Speak at International Conference on Cognitive Therapy

May 25, 2005

by Judy Long, (254) 710-4656

Dr. Gary Brooks, a Baylor University professor of psychology and neuroscience, has been invited to present his research at two venues in Scandinavia in June -- a two-day "Alternatives to Violence (ATV) Workshop" in Oslo on June 11-12, followed by the 2005 International Congress of Cognitive Therapy (ICCT) in Gothenburg, Sweden, June 13-17.

Brooks, whose research centers around gender studies and masculinity, will address findings about the dark side of masculinity at the ATV workshop. "When working with dark side behaviors, it is important to understand their roots in the culture," he said.

Society sends dual messages to boys about how to prove and express masculinity. Boys are taught to respect women, but many cultural cues encourage them to objectify women. Likewise, they are taught about the dangers of alcohol, but cultural messages encourage alcohol abuse as a sign of masculinity, Brooks said.

Brooks described male rites of passage--ways society expects young men to prove themselves as evidenced by attitudes about sports, fast driving, fraternity hazing and other behaviors. "Given the conflicting cultural messages boys receive, we could say boys behave properly in spite of their upbringing instead of because of it."

Following the ATV workshop, Brooks will travel to Sweden to join an international panel of experts at the ICCT. The panel experts will represent different approaches to cognitive therapy, a widely acclaimed approach to psychotherapy that helps the individual to change thought patterns to overcome anxiety, depression and other psychological problems.

Brooks' research reveals that contradictory standards exist to define manhood, leading many men to attempt to attain impossible goals to express their masculinity. Brooks examines the common values men hold -- that they may not even be aware of -- and whether their concept of masculine behavior is illogical or inconsistent. Brooks said trying to attain impossible standards leads to frustration and a host of psychological problems.

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