Three Men Victims of “Shaken Boyfriend Syndrome”
Los Angeles – Los Angeles area hospitals reported treating three men over the weekend for what they are calling “Shaken Boyfriend Syndrome.” The three unrelated cases occurred after the men, who had accompanied their female companions to screenings of the new movie Eat, Pray, Love, were violently shaken after admitting they would rather have seen The Expendables.
“It’s the kind of abuse that goes on without much notice,” said a triage nurse who asked to remain anonymous. “These men have no one to speak for them, and the incidents are usually unreported,” she said. While none of the men sustained life- threatening injuries, all three were kept overnight for observation.
Shaken Boyfriend Syndrome (SBS) is a relatively new phenomenon in medical circles. The New England Journal of Medicine released a report on the condition in its June publication, but since it is confined to men ages 22-40, it is largely overlooked. “The condition of the three men brought to us over the weekend is a wakeup call,” said Dr. Marilyn Osgood, a practitioner at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in West Hollywood. “We used to write it off as a form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), but we’re just now beginning to get some insight into how widely it occurs, and under what circumstances.”
The number of incidents of SBS spikes during the first week or two of the theatrical release of certain films directed at the female audience. It was first noticed during the 2004 release of Unfaithful, and subsequent widespread hospitalizations coincided with the debuts of the movies Mamma Mia, Sex and the City and I Am Love.
Symptoms of SBS are a sudden sense of disorientation, despair, confusion, situational depression, and a desire to “make things all right.” In the Los Angeles incidents, the women accused of the shaking said they were overcome with frustration at their boyfriends’ inability to comprehend why a woman would travel the world sampling different foods, seeking spiritual enlightenment, and having sex with strangers. “You can pretty much do all that at a sports bar,” one of the men allegedly told his date. “Why would she want to spend all that money on plane tickets? That’s just stupid.”
It is that very “I don’t get it” moment that infuriates women enough to suddenly and without warning resort to violent shaking, which often leads to spinal injuries and head trauma. Treatment begins with removing the men from the volatile setting and soothing them with beer, cigars, and NFL highlights. “This is the first step to recovery,” said Dr. Sullivan Ainsworth, the author of the NEJM study. “We’re still looking into the ramifications. Some of this behavior can be traced to elementary school playgrounds, where girls try to explain to boys that dolls are meant to be nurtured, not used as projectiles. The shaking is merely an attempt to communicate on the man’s level.”
The Los Angeles district attorney’s office has yet to press charges pending further investigation and side-by-side viewings of both films. “Luckily, these men only need cervical collars and counseling,” an assistant D.A. said. “It usually gets worse if it’s a Netflix night at home. That’s where we’re seeing the real abuse.”