Recent research has highlighted the importance of traditional methods of healing in relation to the treatment of psychological distress in non-Western populations. This pilot study, conducted in Massachusetts, investigates what Buddhist Cambodian monks consider to be the causes, phenomenology and appropriate intervention strategies for anger among Cambodian refugees. Six monks were interviewed at four major temples in Massachusetts. Findings suggested that anger was common in the Cambodian community, was frequently triggered by marital discord, and commonly resulted in verbal and physical violence and, sometimes, suicidality. Buddhist-based anger management strategies identified as useful by the monks included education about Buddhist doctrines, mindfulness meditation practices, and the use of herbal medication and holy water. These anger regulation strategies and treatments are discussed in the context of Buddhist beliefs and Western psychological interventions.
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In Buddhism, equanimity, compassion, loving kindness (discussed above) and sympathetic joy (joy at the success of others) are considered to be the four Brahmavihara, or dwelling places of Brahma, a key deity in the Buddhist/Indian pantheon (Kraus and Sears 2009). These four virtues are thought to be particularly important for a person’s development, especially for parents. In certain Buddhist countries a four-faced Brahma image is popular and is considered to represent these four virtues. In a Cambodian temple, next to the central Buddha image, there is often an image of the four-faced Brahma, a head with a face on each of four sides.
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A. N. was funded by a 2009 American Australian Association Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship. D.E.H. was funded by NIH/NIMH Grant 5R01MH79032. We would like to thank Dara Chhean for his help with this project.
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Nickerson, A., Hinton, D.E. Anger Regulation in Traumatized Cambodian Refugees: The Perspectives of Buddhist Monks. Cult Med Psychiatry 35, 396–416 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-011-9218-y