Riding to the Sound of the Guns; Defending Men

I’d guess that by now you’ve all heard of the American Psychological Association’s guidance for treating boys and men. No, I haven’t read it, nor do I intend to. Most of what I’ve heard is intensely negative, making ‘pure crap’ sound like a compliment. Plus I’m a technical, engineering type guy, you know, yes or no, right or wrong.works or doesn’t work, ‘0’ or ‘1’. If it’s not absolutely right, it’s completely wrong. I’m mostly digital, not analog, although I do tend to have quite a lot of empathy for the fixes people get themselves into. Been there, done that. I still sort of believe the engineering school definition of psychology: “Nuts and S**ts. Deal with it, that’s the sort of guy I am.

But I’m not everybody, and more and more I notice a lot of young guys (girls too) seem a bit screwed up, so maybe somebody should help them and I’m very likely not that guy, so maybe psychologists do have a place. But I don’t think these guidelines, or at least what I’ve read about them, are helpful.

Quillette Magazine reached out to 12 well-known practitioners (some I’ve even heard of, and even read some of their stuff). What they said is about as balanced as I’ve seen. And it is interesting. A few excerpts follow. much more at the link.

Introduction — John P. Wright, Ph.D.

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 any indication, this change won’t happen anytime soon. Criticism was immediate and fierce. Few outside of a handful of departments within the academy had ever heard of “masculine ideology,” and fewer still understood how defining traditional masculinity by men’s most boorish—even criminal—behavior would serve the interests of men or entice them to seek professional help. Instead of passing quietly into the night, as most academic pronouncements do, the APA’s guidelines did what few such documents have ever done: They engendered a social media maelstrom, and likely not only lost professional credibility, but potentially created new barriers for men who need help. […]

We are heartened by the criticism that emerged from the APA’s guidelines. Why? Because we don’t believe that most of the backlash resulted from crass political motives. Instead, much of it was rooted in a deep concern about men and boys. The culture wars have not been kind to men, and data from an assortment of surveys tell us that boys and men are not thriving. Documents can be edited, but goodwill is a commodity no one should erase. If the APA is truly concerned about the mental and emotional health of men, it will recognize the goodwill and constructive intent underpinning much of the criticism, and consider the feedback as a starting point for a broader and more productive discussion of how to most effectively provide successful treatment for boys and men.

A sample from one contributor.

Who Will Mount Up and Ride to the Sound of the Guns? — B. Christopher Frueh, Ph.D.

The APA’s latest manifesto is an embarrassment to the discipline of psychology. It is an abdication of scientific responsibility, denying biological and evolutionary realities in favor of a progressive fantasy pushed by “social justice” and “feminist” ideologies. It is harmful to all members of our society and dangerous to our national security. Masculine qualities like rugged individualism, courage, stoicism, ambition, and a willingness to protect and sacrifice for others helped secure the freedom and prosperity that so many now take for granted.  

At a time when many academics are virtue-signaling by whining about “toxic masculinity,” taking offense at every imagined “microaggression,” and listing their “pronouns” in their email signature blocks, we should ask where does this line of absurdity end? Perhaps the next APA manifesto will seek to abolish religion, athletics, heterosexual marriage, eating meat, etc. Whatever happened to common sense? And where does this take us? Will we next ban books, movies, and podcasts by people named Ernest Hemingway, Clint Eastwood, or Jocko Willink?

OK, I’m not neutral in this fight, and Dr. Frueh says what I think, so I featured him here. That makes neither him nor me correct, but he damn sure raises a valid question. Read the whole thing, I found that each of the 12 contributors has something valuable to add. None of this is simple. I can’t speak for you, of course, but often I wonder exactly why I think, speak, or write as I do. Dr. Frueh also quotes one of my favorite authors, and it is important that we keep it in mind as we move forward. Remember, life is movement, if we’re not moving forward, we are slipping back.

“We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”

—C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (1943)

Saddle Up!

 

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