Best Batterer Betterer - 2002
Wild-haired Scotsman Hamish Sinclair employs the most unseemly of tools -- New Agey, postmodernist-feminist, get-in-touch-with-your-feelings group therapy -- against the most intractable of problems -- male thuggery -- to achieve an altogether startling outcome: apparent success. Sinclair has spent the past two decades reforming wife beaters by forcing them to confront their inner Stanley Kowalskis, whom Sinclair neuters with the moniker "male role belief system." Patients sit through 52 weeks of group therapy learning to befriend, rather than dominate, women. They admit being warped by machismo. And they make plans for violence-free fulfillment. This kind of deeper-meanings banter has enraged American men since it came into vogue during the 1970s. But inside the confines of Sinclair's "Manalive" therapy sessions, men convicted of domestic violence seem to become more thoughtful. One study conducted at the San Francisco County Jail said the program reduced repeat offenses by men convicted of domestic violence by 80 percent. Sinclair now has programs in several Bay Area counties, San Quentin Prison, and the San Bruno Jail, and as far away as New Zealand. A former documentary filmmaker and labor organizer, Sinclair also served a stint as a mental health worker, where he developed his theory that systems, rather than individuals, are to blame for social ills. He describes his program as a trade school where men learn intimacy unavailable to them as boys. And remarkably, roomfuls of Stanley Kowalskis pay him mind, and become better men.