Civility Is Good for your Health


Excerpts from the Article

By Cynthia L. Alexander and G. Andrew H. Benjamin

...There is growing evidence that incivility is associated with a wide range of risks to both mental and physical health. It is no secret that the legal profession has more than its share of job dissatisfaction, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and divorce. Research suggests that the incivility that seems to pervade the profession plays a role.

Investigators have begun studying the prevalence and effects of general incivility in the workplace, and have found that it is associated with job dissatisfaction, psychological distress, poorer mental health, and poorer physical health, and that these negative outcomes cannot be explained solely by the presence of job stress...

About the Authors

Cynthia L. Alexander was a trial attorney with the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., from 1993 to 2010, where she represented the United States in a wide variety of civil cases. She had the opportunity there to learn firsthand why many consider “civil litigation” an oxymoron. She is completing the requirements for her Ph.D. in clinical psychology with a year-long internship at the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System, Seattle Division, and has a particular interest in integrating her training in law and psychology to improve access to health care in this country and in the developing world.

G. Andrew H. Benjamin was named “Professional of the Year” by the WSBA Family Law Section while working with families engaged in high-conflict litigation and lawyers suffering from various mental health problems and substance abuse. He was elected president of the Washington State Psychological Association, and his colleagues there created an Association award named after him for “outstanding and tireless contributions.” He was honored by the Puyallup Indian Nation’s Health Authority for being a “modern-day warrior fighting the mental illnesses [and] drug-alcohol addictions” of the people served by the Nation’s program. Dr. Benjamin has published 57 peer-reviewed articles in psychology, law, and psychiatry journals. He is the author of three books published by APA: “Law and Mental Health Professionals” (1995,1998), “Family Evaluation in Custody Litigation: Reducing Risks of Ethical Infractions and Malpractice” (2003), and “The Duty to Protect: Ethical, Legal, and Professional Considerations for Mental Health Professionals” (2009).