All posts tagged: psychology

From Hegemonic to Responsive Masculinity: the Transformative Power of the Provider Role

Since the ‘60s the male provider role has been under assault. Associated with the strongly bi-furcated gendered division of labor which has come to prevail in the West, it is blamed for hegemonic masculinity—a term used to describe the problems that have followed from that. However, what I want to suggest here is that we should not hurry to label the provider role as a problem. As I argue in my chapter recently published in The Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology and Mental Health, male provisioning is actually closely associated with and an expression of responsive masculinity, that aspect of the male psyche that responds to the needs of partner and offspring. Not only is male providing an expression of male nurturing behavior, the providing actually generates the nurturing. The bad publicity has been undeserved. In 1981 Jessie Bernard wrote an influential paper on the provider role which set the terms of the debate. She explained that the provider role “delineated relationships within a marriage and family in a way that added to the legal, …

What Explains the Resistance to Evolutionary Psychology?

A recent study conducted by evolutionary psychologists, David Buss and William von Hippel, has found empirical support for the claim that evolutionary psychology is a controversial field among social psychologists.1 Their study titled, “Psychological Barriers to Evolutionary Psychology: Ideological Bias and Coalitional Adaptations,” posed questions to social psychologists to assess their political orientation and their attitudes towards evolutionary psychology, specifically, the extent to which evolutionary theory applies to humans. The responses of the social psychologists to the question of whether Darwinian evolution applies to human minds were highly variable despite being in near unanimous agreement that Darwinian evolution is not only true, but also applies to physical human traits. Further questions revealed that their discomfort with the notion of evolved minds was neither due to religious beliefs nor to beliefs in human specialness, but were due to their varying opinions on “hot button variables” in evolutionary psychology. These included topics such as genetic tendencies for violence, universal standards of beauty, and psychological sex differences. In other words, evolutionary theory becomes contentious when it veers away …

Denying the Neuroscience of Sex Differences

A review of The Gendered Brain: The new neuroscience that shatters the myth of the female brain, by Gina Rippon. The Bodley Head Ltd (March 2019).    Imagine your response to picking up a copy of the leading scientific journal Nature and reading the headline: “The myth that evolution applies to humans.” Anyone even vaguely familiar with the advances in neuroscience over the past 15–20 years regarding sex influences on brain function might have a similar response to a recent headline in Nature: “Neurosexism: the myth that men and women have different brains” subtitled “the hunt for male and female distinctions inside the skull is a lesson in bad research practice.”   Turns out that yet another book, this one with a fawning review in Nature, claims to “shatter” myths about sex differences in the brain while in fact perpetuating the largest one. Editors at Nature decided to give this book their imprimatur. Ironically, within a couple of days of the Nature review being published came a news alert from the American Association for the Advancement of Science titled, “Researchers discover …

Time to Stop Using Suicide For Political Point-Scoring

The writer and influential feminist Chidera Eggerue caused outrage recently when she callously dismissed the problem of male suicide. In response to a question she had received from an audience member about why “some men have it so hard,” Eggerue wrote in a series of tweets that she didn’t “have time to think about the reasons why the system you created at my expense to benefit you is now choking you. If men are committing suicide because they can’t cry, how’s it my concern?” Eggerue later apologized for her comments, but not before her tweets had gone viral and triggered a predictable backlash, including from some feminists. The Guardian’s Zoe Williams described Eggerue’s attitude towards men as “anti-feminist, anti-humanist, anti-intimacy, anti-everything I care about.” This uproar is part of a larger conversation about the gendered nature of suicide. It is well known that men are more likely to die by suicide than women are. The exact figures vary from country to country, but worldwide the suicide rate for men is almost twice as high as …

What Light Does ‘Three Identical Strangers’ Throw on the Nature/Nurture Debate?

The 2018 film, Three Identical Strangers, is gripping. It is both an exposé of a 1950s secret twin study (studies of triplets fall under the general heading of “twin or multiple birth studies”) and a heartbreaking portrayal of identical triplets, Robert, David and Eddy, who were separated at birth, then unknowingly placed under a microscope by psychologists intent upon learning how different family practices might yield different behavioral outcomes. This unthinkable episode in the history of twin research challenges not just established norms, but belief in the sacredness of family, and faith in the integrity of science. More needs to be researched and revealed about this dark study and I will be writing just such a book over the next year. And as one twin observed, “I wish someone would start a support group. This is all so crazy—no one, not even us twins understand the complexity.” Looking into the twins’ and triplets’ stolen childhoods and its profound effects on their lives will be a key goal. It is also vital to understand why identical …

The Last Place Men Can Settle Things Like Men

In the middle of a dry, dusty desert in Nevada, I rode my bicycle down a street that wasn’t there a few weeks ago, and would be gone again in just a few days. C is a main street in Black Rock City, the Burning Man gathering that springs up in the alkali playa a few hours from Reno. At “Camp Settle This Like Men,” I parked my bike, donned a thick, stiff kimono and pants, and stepped onto the mats. I’d not brought my belt from home, so strapped on a loaner white belt, and invited a burly, bearded man with a huge smile and a brown belt to roll. A few minutes later, we stopped for breath. “You’re a black belt aren’t you?” he demanded. “Yeah,” I said, smiling. “What gave it away?” Mike and I became friends, in life and on Facebook. We know a lot of the same people, it turned out. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) community is large and growing, but at higher ranks, it is still a close-knit, …

Twelve Scholars Respond to the APA’s Guidance for Treating Men and Boys

Introduction — John P. Wright, Ph.D. John Paul Wright is a professor of criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati. He has published widely on the causes and correlates of human violence. His current work examines how ideology affects scholarship. Follow him on Twitter @cjprofman. Thirteen years in the making, the American Psychological Association (APA) released the newly drafted “Guidelines for Psychological Practice for Boys and Men.” Backed by 40 years of science, the APA claims, the guidelines boldly pronounce that “traditional masculinity” is the cause and consequence of men’s mental health concerns. Masculine stoicism, the APA tells us, prevents men from seeking treatment when in need, while beliefs rooted in “masculine ideology” perpetuate men’s worst behaviors—including sexual harassment and rape. Masculine ideology, itself a byproduct of the “patriarchy,” benefits men and simultaneously victimizes them, the guidelines explain. Thus, the APA committee advises therapists that men need to become allies to feminism. “Change men,” an author of the report stated, “and we can change the world.” But if the reaction to the APA’s guidelines is …

How My Toxic Stoicism Helped Me Cope with Brain Cancer

Under normal circumstances—e.g. in a time when the American Psychological Association (APA) has not released guidelines questioning whether norms associated with “traditional masculinity” (e.g. stoicism) are harmful to the mental health of men, and a shaving commercial is not being run that criticizes “toxic masculinity”—I would be reluctant to publicly share a story of personal adversity that, as a sometime aficionado of existentialist philosophy, I know I must ultimately face alone. But in the spirit of opening up, here goes. I have brain cancer. Not the kind that killed John McCain, Ted Kennedy, or Beau Biden. At least not yet. I am afflicted with a low-grade glioma (specifically, a grade-2 infiltrative astrocytoma). My neurosurgeon informs me that experts do not distinguish between benign and malignant brain tumors. Instead, they distinguish between low-grade and high-grade tumors, the point being that all brain tumors naturally progress to death. There is no cure. High-grade simply gets you there faster. In the words of one study, “all low grade gliomas eventually progress to high grade glioma and death.” In …

Thank You, APA

People who don’t live in northern climates may not realize that construction doesn’t stop even in the coldest months. I live in North Dakota and was driving by a building site just the other day and saw a bunch of men stoically working in subzero temperatures and generally miserable weather conditions. I then started thinking about the other difficult and dangerous jobs that are dominated by males such as logging workers, fishing workers, roofers, and iron and steel workers. For some strange reason, men seem to be uniquely willing to do dangerous jobs. In fact, economist and American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark J. Perry has documented a gender occupational fatality gap. Turns out that even though men make around 53 percent of all workers in the United States, they account for about 93 percent of workplace fatalities. Thanks to the new guidelines from the American Psychological Association (APA) for practice with men and boys, male psychology is no longer a mystery and mental health professionals are now equipped with the tools they need to combat …

How the Self-Esteem Myth Has Damaged Society and Us—An Interview with Will Storr

Will Storr is an award-winning journalist and novelist. His work has appeared in outlets such as the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the New Yorker, and Esquire. His latest book is Selfie: How We Became so Self-Obsessed and What it’s Doing to Us. As a psychologist who studies the self and related topics, I was excited to read the book and was not disappointed. I highly recommend it. Below is an interview I conducted with Mr. Storr about Selfie.  Clay Routledge: What made you interested in researching and writing a book focused on the self? Will Storr: My previous book, The Unpersaudables, was an investigation into how intelligent people come to believe crazy things. It focused on the ways we become intellectually stuck. I concluded that we don’t really choose the things we believe—at least not those things that are core to our worldview. What we believe is just part of the accident of who we are. In an important way, our core beliefs and our self are indivisible. But this was also a slightly unsatisfying …