Healthcare Training Institute - Quality Education since 1979
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kinds of direct self-destructive behaviors do men frequently engage in?
One of the largest factors in the seven-year, male-female longevity difference is the sex difference in the use of tobacco products; the only legally available commodities in the United States that, when used as intended, will likely result in the death of the user if given enough time. There is a long tradition in advertising of associating tobacco use with masculinity. The Marlboro Man is probably the best example, a rugged cowboy who enjoys smoking cigarettes in wide open spaces. Suicide is the ultimate self-destructive act. Although females attempt suicide more often, males complete suicides four times more often than females in the United States. Teenage girls make 75 percent of all suicide attempts within this age range, but boys make 80 percent of all complete suicides.
Father, Like Son
Any feelings of vulnerability, sadness, or hurt are similarly seen as evidence of masculine weakness. To further complicate the picture, boys cannot name or talk about this conflict. Acknowledging or asking for help with self-doubt is considered unmanly. Doing so would threaten the masculinity they have learned to value so highly. Losing awareness of these feelings becomes a valuable coping skill. A boy learns how to act like a man, to avoid losing at all costs, and to not tolerate making mistakes. He defends himself against anyone who thinks that he is not powerful, strong, or forever right. The son grows into the man that his father appeared to be. When he grows up and marries, he wants and needs emotional closeness with his wife but is terrified of intimacy, so he settles for what he knows how to do: compete, detach, bully, and act in other stereotypical and unhealthy masculine ways. To a great extent, he becomes his father, shaped as much by his fears as by his strengths.
are the ABCs of Change?
happens to men who grow up without learning to deal with feelings and inner conflicts?
We can look at a variety of social and psychological forces that conspire to encourage men to deal with depression by becoming destructive to themselves and/or others. They involve problematic childhood relationships with their mothers and fathers, the learning of poor techniques for dealing with emotional difficulties, and the failure of social systems to hold many men responsible for their destructive behavior. Even in relatively normal men, these conflicts can emerge when emotional pain combines with the cultural directives to be a man.
In the larger culture, masculine depression is often seen as moral failure, mainly because of the harm to others that masculine depression usually breeds, and because men are considered to always be in control of themselves. Moreover, there is a sense that nothing can be done about disturbing male behavior. This boys will be boys attitude leaves people feeling helpless in addressing the problem. Because the pain is behind the mask, the depressive origin of these behaviors is not well understood; solutions are often punitive or misguided. Instead of looking at the origins of male behavior, people tend to focus solely on its harmful effects.
Even when depressed men are well aware of their problems, they are less likely to seek help in a culture that considers help seeking to be unmanly. Unable to express themselves, gain support from friends, or request professional help, many depressed men are left alone with their problems. All depressed men are disturbed, and unfortunately, many also become disturbing. The solution is elusive because the appearance is deceiving.
Adapted from The Pain Behind the Mask: Overcoming Masculine Depression. Lynch, John & Kilmartin, Christopher.
Reflection Journaling Activity #8