Med School Professor Uses Videotape Replay To Bring End to Married Couples' Quarrels

A Medical School psychiatrist has invented what he says is a new way to save marriages -- showing couples videotape replays of their quarrels.

Dr. Howard Paul, assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry, said last night that his treatment is more than 60 per cent effective in either reconciling fighting couples or "improving their self-esteem."

Paul started using "tape therapy" seven years ago in treating schizophrenics. He began applying it to married couples five years ago.

Paul does the taping in his office. "It's easy to get couples into a hassle," he said. "Whatever problem they've got is bound to come out in front of you, so that's no sweat."

Instant Replay

After the fight subsides, Paul replays it on tape so that his patients will perceive how they appear to their spouse, rather than just how they feel personally. "They've got to see what the other guy sees, not just what they think, to understand their problems," he said.

Paul isn't primarily concerned with mending marriages. "The only thing I'm against is messy divorces where the kids get screwed. I don't see success in terms of reconciliation," he said.

Videotape marriage counselling makes up about about 80 per cent of his private practice, Paul said. He said that he has done very little work on the treatment at Harvard, but has devoted more time to it at Boston University Medical School, where he is a professor of neurology.

Paul has been married for 22 years, and he said that he often uses videotaping to solve problems at home.

An article in this week's New York magazine, written by Paul's colleague William Lederer, describes the videotape process. Paul and Lederer are working together on a book about marriage called "The Nuptial Imperative."

Paul said that the book will concentrate on helping people understand each other before they are married rather than saving existing marriages. "I'm more interested in prevention than cure," Paul said.