"Traditional male ideology" harms men, according to early American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines for therapists working with men and boys. This claim has drawn the attention of experts from the right, as well as other psychologists, who fear that this attitude deters men from seeking the support they need in terms of mental health.
And it is clear that men need more support. Men are nearly four times more likely to commit suicide than women, but are significantly less likely to seek treatment. Men have been hit hardest by the recession and are at the center of a new cultural conversation triggered by the # MeToo movement.
The APA first decided to create guidelines for working with men in 2005, according to APA's professional practice leader, Jared Skillings. (The bureaucratic reshuffle has delayed the project until recently.) The 10 guidelines deal with everything from helping men in their relationships to solving the problems that lead men to put their health at risk. do not go to the doctor. Various sections deal specifically with "the impact of power, privilege and sexism" and highlight high rates of problems such as aggression, violence, substance abuse and suicide.
This framework could be perceived as an unnecessary emphasis on the message that being a man is bad says John Barry, professor at University College London, who is the editor of the next Manuel Palgrave of Male Psychology and Mental Health. "People already tend to focus on things like toxic masculinity," he says. "If men hear that they are the ones who have all the power and privileges, when they have these emotional problems in their relationships and that they plan to commit suicide, that somehow implies that everything is their fault. "
Skillings and Matt Englar-Carlson, director of the Center for Men and Boys at California State University in Fullerton, and author of the new guidelines, say the message is: do not this being a man is bad. It's bad that gender roles and going too far in some parts of masculinity are bad. According to Englar-Carlson, for example, men must be independent, which is usually a good thing. "But if you are only independent all the time and that's all you can do and you can not ask for help, it has ramifications that are not healthy, "he says.
The way men are socialized to create links is different
Englar-Carlson points out that the guidelines suggest that therapists think of "masculinity" because there is not one. With Barry at UCL, he said that psychologists should focus on developing "positive masculinities" or positive ways to reinforce male traits, such as trying to assume roles of leadership.
So, what does it mean for a trait to be a form of "positive masculinity"? If, for example, you encourage men to be more open about their feelings, is not this a traditionally feminine trait? Not exactly, says Englar-Carlson. Human beings want bonds and want to be valued, but men and women are socialized to find these things differently. The trick is to appreciate all possible forms.
For example, if you go to a cafe and see two women having a cup of coffee, looking in the eye and having an intense conversation, it is clear that this is a form of intimacy. Englar-Carlson says, on the other hand, consider that three men in a yard are doing construction work. "They are not sitting one in front of each other in a cafe. They work, lay down reinforcing bars and dig holes, "he says. "But they have been non-stop for three hours about their lives and what's going on. Is not it so intimate? For me, part of the positive masculinity is recognizing that the way men are socialized to make connections is different, not better or worse, and that is encouraging. This does not mean that men must all go to coffee. This helps them to create their own ways to make friends. It does not tell them that they can not be leaders. We must make sure that they are inclusive and that they are healthy leaders.
Skillings points out that the guidelines, which include contributions from hundreds of researchers, are meant to be suggestions for best practice, not strict professional standards. Nobody will be punished for not following them. Rather, it is APA's efforts to show that they have seriously thought about the specific problems that men face. As Englar-Carlson says, "I do not think you can read all the guidelines and do not go away with the belief that it's about helping men lead a healthier life." . "