By The British Psychological Society, [RxPG] Contrary to stereotypes, fighting appears to provide professional fighters with a forum in which to establish, strengthen and enrich their friendships.
This is the conclusion of Dr Martin Milton at the University of Surrey who will present his findings at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference at the University of Manchester on Saturday 2 April 2005.
Dr Milton spoke to professional fighters in sports such as mixed-martial arts and boxing who competed in the UK and abroad. He questioned the group on how they managed their relationships with fellow fighters and other people who played a significant role in their lives.
He found they experienced fighting as a way in which they initiated and deepened friendships and the fighters identified a sense of camaraderie and bonding as important factors in this process.
The enriching of friendships seemed to proceed through a specific relational process - which was initially to see their opponent either as a 'non-entity' or as someone on whom to focus their aggression. During the fight their attention was completely on the opponent and it seems that this process often led to a respect and appreciation of the opponent - so much so that strong friendships develop.
Dr Milton said "The research suggests that although fighting is often demonised, there are ways in which it seems to facilitate respect and deepen relationships between the participants. This shows that not only are fighters able to turn their aggression on and off but that fighters are alert to relational factors and attend to other people, both within the cage or ring and outside of it. This has implications for how we perceive fighters - both inside and outside of the consulting room."
However Dr Milton added that the significant time that fighters have to dedicate to their training means there is less time available to invest in romantic relationships. This and the concern that partners have for the physical well-being of the fighter means that strain is placed on those relationships.
Presented at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference
On the web:www.bps.org.uk
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