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January 17 2019

Therapist: Masculinity Is Not a Sickness

by Charlotte Hays

Erica Komisar is an author and psychoanalyst and she says her male patients have never been so depressed. Some feel emasculated in a society that no longer values masculinity.

The American Psychological Association's recent report demeaning masculinity as "on the whole harmful" isn't helping.

Komisar has an excellent piece in this morning's Wall Street Journal arguing that "Masculinity Isn't a Sickness" and criticizing the APA for what she says amounts to a denial of biology.

Komisar values both masculinity and femininity :

The truth is that masculine traits such as aggression, competitiveness and protective vigilance not only can be positive, but also have a biological basis. Boys and men produce far more testosterone, which is associated biologically and behaviorally with increased aggression and competitiveness. They also produce more vasopressin, a hormone originating in the brain that makes men aggressively protective of their loved ones.

The same goes for feminine traits such as nurturing and emotional sensitivity. Women produce more oxytocin when they nurture their children than men, and the hormone affects men and women differently. Oxytocin makes women more sensitive and empathic, while men become more playfully, tactually stimulating with their children, encouraging resilience. These differences between men and women complement each other, allowing a couple to nurture and challenge their offspring.

Modern society is also too often derisive toward women who embrace their biological tendencies, labeling them abnormal or unhealthy. Women who choose to stay home with their children can feel harshly judged, contributing to postpartum conflict, anxiety and depression.

What’s unhealthy isn’t masculinity or femininity but the demeaning of masculine men and feminine women. The first of the new APA guidelines urges psychologists “to recognize that masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural, and contextual norms,” as if biology had nothing to do with it. Another guideline explicitly scoffs at “binary notions of gender identity as tied to biology.”

I urge you to read the entire article.

Here is an earlier blog on the APA report.

 





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