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The Father-Child Connection: A Struggle of Contemporary Man by S. Robert Moradi, M.D.

It's through parenting that fathers develop an emphatic connection to their own vulnerabilities and those of the children for whom they provide a watchful protectiveness. Within the emphatic connection learned by fathering, men have the chance to develop their own sense of mature masculinity.


It's well-documented in social and psychological literature that children who come from families with psychologically involved fathers are cognitively more competent, have higher degrees of compassion for others, manifest fewer sex-stereotyped beliefs and have a more solid internal locus of control.




As the baby begins to take the first few steps away from the mother, the first "other" he or she usually encounters is the father. The connection with the mother was established long ago. This new connection with the father creates an imbalance in the family system affecting all players.


The pregnancy and birth of a child, although culturally celebrated and consciously welcomed by the father, hallmarks the beginning of a profound psychological transformation in the man's adult life. He's forced to expand in ways that he couldn't have been prepared for by intellectual process. The experience of the new father, if not blocked or distorted by psychological defenses, represents a significant alteration in his self-concept.

As pregnancy evolves, the husband begins to lose the emotional centrality position with his wife. When the baby is born the father finds himself No.2 or the outsider to both mother and baby. The love affair is between mother and child.


Ashamed of his competition with the baby and feeling betrayed by his wife, he feels unloved, unacknowledged and useful only for providing the needs of the dyad. At the same time, he may be confronted with the emergence of his own unresolved childhood conflicts.


The psychological impact of this triangulation is manifold. If mourning the loss of how the relationship was with his wife and awareness of the good aspects of becoming a father aren't adequately provided for, the man will cope in familiar ways to survive the assault.


i.e., one man might work hard and unconsciously try to gain his wife back into the dyad by doing better and more of what he knows how; another man might give up and finds solace in an affair or substances; yet another might compensate by creating his own "baby," e.g., building, inventing, producing and expanding in the physical or spiritual world.

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It's somewhere within this context that the baby becomes a toddler and begins to walk to the father. This is the beginning of the potential of an independent relationship between father and child. This relationship has to be sanctioned and often encouraged by the mother. Toddlership is a major psychological reorganization of the triangle.


It requires mother's conscious acceptance and readiness to share the baby with the father; trust in the potential that father's involvement will provide for a developmental step in the psyche of the child and the mother and that mother and father have recognized and worked through the loss of their exclusivity.


It requires parents' acceptance of a full-blown triangular relationship, i.e., a crucial intrapsychic transformation within each parent as well as reconfiguration of their relationship with each other and with the world.


Father's role in preparing the background for the connection demands his flexibility. He needs to let go of his internal and external coping mechanisms to provide physical and psychological space for the often "irrational, uncompromising, fickle, messy, tyrannical, demanding and self-centered individual" called the toddler.


Not an easy task.


Male Cultural Roles


A frequent male experience in industrialized societies is psychological abandonment due to cultural pressure for young boys to separate from their mothers, while girls can continue to be part of the "kitchen" in the maternal world.


As mothers push their young sons away to learn their "maleness," there's usually neither a father nor any other male to mentor the boy. The main defensive reaction of the discarded boy is detachment from the needy self inside and donning a mask for an invulnerable man.


This mask is used in an unconscious effort to shield the boy from the humiliation of having been abandoned. In other words, a false self begins to emerge to counteract such intense emotions as fear of physical disintegration or the dread of psychological humiliation.


The false self is reinforced in many cultures such as ours by positive approval and social value assigned to emotional detachment in men in favor of their pursuit of power and wealth. There are intrapsychic blocks unique to men. These blocks have their foundation in feelings of humiliation, shame and repressed rage.


Boys in postindustrial Western culture at an early age are separated from their elder men. Young men are left to find their path without guides or mentors. Close physical and emotional bonds have been with the mother, but staying attached to her, or returning to her, is filled with societal humiliation.


These men, in their relationships with their wives, establish a maternal transference toward the wife. This displaced psychological phenomenon and the unconscious threat of the repeat of the original abandonment forces them to attempt to control her either by clinging on to her or defending against the need for connection with her by staying distant.


It's within this context that the father experiences the baby as a rival. The new father may feel excluded, unsafe and angry, but he's often unconscious and/or ashamed of these feelings. The unconscious feelings of anger can be acted out in the community in the form of abuse and/or neglect of the weak and the needy.


Within the family the victims are often the children. The most central target of destructive forces, however, is the psyche (soul) and inevitability, the soma of the person who carries the unconscious conflict and rage.


Deep-seated feelings of inadequacy about how to become "a man" and how to protect the family are other sources of internal rage in many men. The rage that is frequently projected to the outside world. The false-self man, now the father who carries childhood feelings of being unwanted (this feeling is soon to come), is frightened of his inability to survive and ashamed of his inadequacies as the one who should "protect" his family.


The group process can be an effective measure in reducing male shame by providing a safe space for unconscious rage. The connection of group members to each other and a healthy transference toward the group facilitators provide a context for exploration of the members' emotional deprivation as well as intrapsychic and interpersonal conflicts.


Compassion from paternal substitutes provides the potential for a "corrective emotional experience."

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Psychodynamic Tools


As clinicians, when we observe an excessive focus on the "dangers" from outside the family, we wonder about and suggest to the group member the possibility of projection of the person's unconscious internal rage and fear.


A psychodynamic group for fathers attempts to identify the projections and confront the denial of the "beasts and monsters" inside the family which manifest in forms such as sadness, anger, jealousy, envy and shame.


i.e., a 3-year-old's nightmares can be the child's fear of the rage inside the family, whether it's the father's unconscious rage toward the child &/or the mother; mother's anger with the father &/or the child; or the child's own rage manifesting as the monsters in his sleep.


An underlying construct of the psychodynamic process with father-child groups is that the protective task of fathering should include protection of the family against the unconscious destructiveness within the parents. The protective task of the father could be identified and worked within the group as his role in handling the day-to-day fears, inadequacies and conflicts that are inevitable inside the home.


The protective role of the father then serves to create a sense of internal safety and security within the psyche of the members of the family. Father's task is to bring conflict to discussion without fear of retaliation from those with more power. Without this protective shield, the family will be in chaos.


Unfairness can go unchecked and a fertile environment is created for neglect and abuse of the weaker members of the family. There are situations where the father's sense of protection can become an unconscious tool for projection and denial.

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Father-Toddler Group Structure


The group meets every other Sunday in the playground of the Early Childhood Center, a community resource program under a section of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.


The majority of the fathers are referred by their wives through Mommy & Me groups. All the men except one are married. They're Caucasian, educated and socio-economically represent the upper middle class.


The fathers and their children spend the first 15 to 20 minutes in the outdoor playground with each other until the children are at ease in the setting. Fathers talk casually with each other and staff. This time period provides opportunities for staff to view the father-child relationship and interactions.


The observations are then used in making interpretations of behavior and clarifications for the child and the father.


The initial group consisted of 8 fathers (ranging in age from 28 to 54) and 10 toddlers (with 2 sets of twins). The staff's orientation is psychodynamic, comprised of 2 male group facilitators and 3 or 4 female and male child development specialists.


Fathers engage in group discussion for 1 hour at which time the child development specialists join the fathers for feedback regarding their observations of the children and provide opportunities for dialogue between staff and fathers.


Group Dynamics


Fathers in the group speak of not knowing their child as well as they wish and not being known by their children. A common fear expressed is that of not being an adequate provider and protector of their child.


Most fathers share the burden of having to work full-time and not having energy and playfulness by the time they get home. Once home, they feel responsible to relieve the mother by stepping into an arena unfamiliar to them:

  • what to feed
  • how to change
  • how to soothe
  • how to play and engage with their children

Fathers find themselves coming home in a condition similar to their children, i.e., they too need their rest, are hungry and need to be soothed and engaged.


"After I spend 2 to 3 hours, she's finally in bed...This is my life and I have no time to myself...I'm totally exhausted," many fathers report.


The men grieve the loss of their life before their children. A repeated phrase heard in the group is, "I never have a moment to talk with my wife." Often they feel in competition with the baby-deprived and inadequate at the same time. They juxtapose how impotent they feel at home and how competent at work.


Fathers struggle together and talk about how they can't comfort their babies or differentiate cries. They talk of their resentment of the child waking them in the middle of the night, the loss of intimacy with their wives since the baby was born & their guilt and shame when they find themselves angry and "lose it" with the child.


As the fathers talk to one another they see the commonality of their anger and frustration and this aids in the reduction of their shame.


A primary benefit of father-child groups is to the father. The group can enhance the father-child connection, making it less likely for the father to abandon the child and additionally provide a context in which unconscious rage can be identified.


The father, in learning how to care for his child, can nurture his own "internal child" and thereby care for his own infantile needs. This would assist the father in developing empathic responses to his child rather than acting out his unconscious feelings of shame and anger.


Dr. Moradi currently is in private practice of adult, child & adolescent psychiatry, teaches psychodynamic family therapy at Reiss-Davis Child Study Ctr. & is asst. clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine.

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receiving & giving acknowledgment feels so good....


The Importance of Personal Acknowledgment


Personal interaction is a fundamental human need. Studies have shown (and history testifies) that one of the worst punishments or tortures is solitary confinement. Any interaction is better than being ignored totally. However, some are better than others.


We can classify basic interactions as:

  • verbal or non-verbal
  • positive or negative
  • conditional or unconditional: means that the interaction is dependent on some behavior (e.g. doing a good piece of work) by the other person

(Taking this a bit further:) 


Verbal Positive, Unconditional Acknowledgment:


  • "Good morning" (sincerely!)

Verbal, Positive, Conditional Acknowledgment:

  • "That was a great piece of work! Well done! "

Verbal, Negative, Conditional Acknowledgment:

  • "That was a poor piece of work."

Verbal, Negative, Unconditional Acknowledgment:

  • "You're a waste of my time!"

Non-verbal, Positive, Unconditional Acknowledgment:

  • A genuine smile as someone arrives at work.

Non-verbal, Positive, Conditional Acknowledgment:

  • Shaking hands on reaching agreement

Non-verbal, Negative, Conditional Acknowledgment:

  • Head shaking when someone makes a point you disagree with

Non-verbal, Negative, Unconditional Acknowledgment:

  • Frowning or sighing on catching sight of someone

Create opportunities to use all of the positive types regularly. Use conditional negatives with caution, so that you don't seem to be always criticizing team members. Avoid unconditional negatives absolutely. If you do that, you may dramatically improve relationships.


Remember that if there's a conflict between the verbal and the non-verbal message (e.g. 'Good Morning' with a frown), people tend to believe the non-verbal and read the conflict as a sign of untrustworthiness.

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The Gift of Acknowledgment

with Joyce & Barry Vissell


Acknowledging others is a powerful way to strengthen relationships and increase fulfillment in life. Everyone understands the importance of an acknowledgment when someone gives you a material gift, such as sending flowers, a beautiful candle for your birthday, the gift of a special book or new CD.


Usually a phone call or card is sent in gratitude. But what about the gifts that can't be seen. These need acknowledgment just as much.


Your employee stays late, your daughter does the dishes by surprise, your friend comes to support you when you have heard bad news, or your teacher does an excellent job.


When we acknowledge people for these gifts, there are two rewards. First, the recipient will feel noticed and appreciated and will be open to helping again. Second and less obvious, is how good it makes us feel to acknowledge other people.

To notice someone's effort and appreciate them, will bring a smile and joy into that person's life, which is rewarding for us.

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It's also important to acknowledge the small everyday ways our friends, partner, children or other people are contributing to our lives. In our relationship, Barry and I work together and usually do most of the household chores together.


There are a few things that we do separately. Barry manages our finances on the computer. I do all the family wash. One day Barry walked out of the office with the usual stack of paid bills. Now I've seen him do this for many years. But this time I threw my arms around him and thanked him for taking care of this job which neither one of us enjoys.


He delighted in the appreciation and his smile and warm kiss let me know. The next day I found a note in the laundry basket saying, "Thank you so much for doing our laundry each week. I so appreciate your efforts." That little note made all the difference in tackling the big stack of dirty clothes.


In acknowledging others it's important to express first the positive. In saying to someone, "When I first met you I thought you were fake and irresponsible, I didn't know if I wanted to be around you. Now I'm glad I stayed and got to know you."


The person will probably first hear the words fake and irresponsible and not be able to hear the positive statement that came after. It's important therefore to express first your positive feeling.


Usually that is enough.


It's also important to be unattached to how our acknowledgment will be received. Usually people will delight in being noticed, but not always. When I was 25, I had the amazing opportunity to have Leo Buscaglia as my main preceptor in my master's program at the USC department of education.


Leo, who went on to write best-selling books on the subject of Love, was a genius at acknowledging people. We, his small group of students, felt thoroughly appreciated. He noticed positive things about me that I'd been totally unaware of.


Being w/him for one year impressed upon me the importance of noticing people's beauty and gifts. One day a classmate from medical school was visiting our apartment.


I'd just come from one of Leo's classes and felt inspired to acknowledge this dear man. I walked over to him and told him all the ways that I thought he was such a special person and would make such a good doctor.


I expected him to give me a big smile. Instead he looked to the floor and didn't say anything. I felt embarrassed and felt I'd done something wrong. Not one word was said between us about that interaction.


One year later he approached me and told me that no one had ever appreciated him in such a beautiful way. He just didn't know how to respond.


His lack of response bothered him so much that he went into therapy to figure it out. He wanted me to know that one year later he could now receive what I had said and that it had helped him enormously.


So we just don't know how our words will impact people. One thing I have learned is that acknowledgment will always have a positive effect sooner or later.

When we train ourselves to notice and then acknowledge people we are learning to notice all the beauty and goodness of our creator. As we see this good our hearts open and our lives become full of beauty.

an excerpt from Men's Issues:


We, as males, have been socialized since boyhood in this culture to deny and repress vulnerable emotions like fear, hurt, sadness and grief.


But as you may be aware, the unacknowledged and unhealed pain associated with these feelings doesn't go away. It frequently manifests later in life as physical illness, stress, anxiety, depression, emotional numbness and addiction (food, sex, substance, work, gambling, etc.) or as defensiveness, control, withdrawal or anger in the context of relationship.


This unacknowledged and unhealed pain can also lead to isolation, low self-esteem and feelings of hopelesness or cynicism.




Most men today are burnt out and don't know it. Whether a success or a failure, these men suffer from some of the symptoms of burnout:


These symptoms aren't acknowledged because we men have been taught to numb ourselves to any feelings that'll keep us from our objectives.


We're good at goals, objectives, job descriptions. In fact, men need a mission. We've been taught to be warriors over the span of thousands of years. We've been bred and trained to be focused, intrepid, vigilant, goal directed.


As we fulfill the mission statements of our companies, organizations, communities we're also following a deeper programming. We fulfill the job descriptions of manhood that reward success no matter the physical or emotional cost just as warriors for millennium have ignored their own well-being for a higher purpose.


We're taught that the goal of these missions is the higher purpose of our beleaguered family and society. In a real sense society rewards men as warriors and men are on a war footing emotionally most of their lives.


Training Manual

The truth is that we've been betrayed. Our bosses and generals, our political and spiritual leaders have unknowingly betrayed us. The modern way of achieving manhood in our society isn't working for us.


We've been using a training manual for manhood that's flawed and out of date. We've been intrepid in fulfilling our job description only to find out there's been a mistake. Our training has been inappropriate and the mission ill-conceived. Men are burnt out by the mission.


Burnout is modern battle fatigue. And we're suffering a pain that our mission won't allow us to admit.


Some men feel the pain as the 'failure of success.' They've done it all right. They accomplished the mission. They've reached their objectives only to find themselves unsatisfied and vaguely frustrated. They find themselves king of a non-strategic hill.


Other men rarely fulfill their whole mission, but keep trying courageously while questioning their own skill and integrity. They're not gifted in their assigned training yet never question where that training manual came from.


They're taught not to question the mission, only themselves. They're frustrated men, angry at themselves, sometimes taking it out on the loved ones whose welfare they're supposed to protect.


Still other men just give up and leave their manhood and self respect behind. These are the casualties of this nonsensical mission.


The most compelling evidence for the depth of this unacknowledged burnout is in men's health statistics. The human psyche works in such a way that emotional pain that isn't consciously dealt with goes deep into our unconscious.


If the pain is driven deep enough it ends up in our bodies.


Herbert Benson, a Harvard physician and founder of Harvard's Mind/Body Medical Institute, estimates that 60-90% of all physician office visits in the US stem from stress-related conditions. Psychic pain often leads to physical breakdown and men's bodies are riddled with deeply driven psychic pain.


As a result men, today, live an average 7-9 years less than women. In 1920 the figure for men was one year less. Warren Farrell, author of The Myth of Male Power, points out that a boy infant, as of 1991, is only half as likely as a girl infant to live to age 85.


Men lead women in 8 of the top 10 causes of death. One of those causes is suicide. Aaron Kipnis, author of Knights Without Armor, points out that men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women.


He points out that men's suicide rates increase with age as men suffer more burnout & have less capacity for joy and spontaneity.


Suicide is the ultimate symbol of men burying their pain.


Health statistics also show other symptoms of burnout. Men are 3 times as likely as women to have a drug or alcohol problem which may explain the reason that men are more than twice as likely as women to have chronic liver disease.


Addictions are a major sign of a man struggling with the pain of burnout. As we'll see, addictions are also a major way men treat the most significant sign of burnout, depression.


Only in the past few years have men stepped forward to point out the fact of men's burnout and to question its cause. Men with backgrounds as diverse as sociology, theology, philosophy, anthropology, psychology and even poetry have started to speak out on the problems of our manhood training manual.


Psychologists are now looking at what we now consider healthy human behavior and comparing that to typical male behavior in the business and social world.


Medical doctors are now questioning the health statistics that show how supposedly satisfied men are prematurely dying in droves.


A New Movement of Men

here are now emerging some answers to the problem of widespread male burnout. A movement is forming, though it's more like a guerrilla movement. Small uprisings are happening spontaneously as men in small groups start to question their mission.


To be sure this movement comes about 30 years after the start of the feminist movement. And its direction is still not clear. But this movement is much more pervasive and advanced than many men realize.


Men have started meeting together to share their frustration and pain. The movement shows up in men's councils, men's groups, men's weekend workshops. It also shows up in large male gatherings such as the Million Man March and in the stadiums that host Promise Keepers.


It shows up in the growing amount of men's literature that I hope to acquaint you with. It even manages to creep into the fabric of our society with jokes about "drums and spears" and men "going native in the woods."


Common to the whole men's movement is the questioning of the modern cultural meaning of manhood. Along with this questioning is a deep searching for new rules of conduct that embody healthier standards of male behavior.


Burnout itself shows the inner conflict most men have. This movement is starting to show that the problem isn't the man but the mission. The problem isn't performance but ignorance and betrayal.


Men of the Movement

In the men's movement there are many different perspectives on men's growth and behavior. Men like Sam Keen, David Gerzon, Warren Farrell & David Gilmore write from a political and social perspective. They're looking at the big political picture and the social training men are given about their roles.


They then look at the political, social and environmental effects of a power structure controlled by these kinds of socialized men.


There are also men, like Robert Bly, Michael Meade, Aaron Kipnis, Malidoma Some and James Hillman who come more from the mythopoetic tradition which has an anthropological as well as literary base.


These men write about the basis of culture itself, its underlying beliefs embodied in cultural myths. They believe in the need for creating new, healthier mythic ideals for our Western culture. They are looking for the new paradigms of manhood that go far deeper than changing the power structure.


I'll be drawing heavily on both these branches of the men's movement. However, I'll be adding the psychological perspective that includes the internal dynamics of men's growth. I'll be portraying a developmental psychology that emphasizes the healthy stages of psychological growth men must go through.


From this perspective I'll share with you the thoughts of men such as Carl Jung, Robert Johnson, Robert Moore and David Gillette, Scott Peck, Terrence Real, William Pollack and even Sigmund Freud.


All these men and others will be presented in this book. They're the pioneers. We owe them a great deal of gratitude. They're the modern guerrilla leaders fighting for all of us. I feel like I'm standing on the shoulders of giants in writing this book.


My eyes were opened at a weekend workshop led by Michael Meade and Malidoma Some. They easily recruited me once I heard what they had to say. They touched something in my heart that I knew was true but had no words for. Their message changed my life. I can only wish the same to those who read on.


Sudden Brothers

One common tenet that links the many branches of the men's movement is that men need each other in order to grow and we need each other in very specific ways.


Some talk of this need being manifested in father hunger. Others talk of each man's need for relatedness. Still others talk of the brotherhood that comes out in teamwork and shoulder to shoulder intimacy.


I was talking to a man recently who had just been told by his wife that she wanted a divorce. He was seeking counseling for the first time in a state of anger and confusion. He told me he just needed my help briefly to get through this crisis, maybe a month or two.


Then, he said, he'd be able to figure things out on his own. It was then I felt compelled to tell him what is the foundational idea of the men's movement. He won't be able to do it alone.


He was uncomfortable and then angry when I told him. I then asked him not to take my advice as a personal criticism. No man can do it alone. We're not weak or cowardly in accepting this fact. Men aren't made that way, even though that flawed training manual says differently. Men are made by other men.


Men need brothers and close friends, fathers and mentors, elders and wise male counsel in order to grow. I can remember when I first started attending men's workshops and meetings. When men started sharing their frustration instead of their elation, their failures instead of successes, I palpably relaxed and had the strongest feeling of coming home.


I felt like I'd unexpectedly come to a place where I was deeply understood and accepted. I felt like I belonged. I felt totally supported in my broken manhood. I knew I needed more of this in order to survive and grow.


There's a term in the movement called "sudden brothers." This term was coined because many men experienced a feeling similar to mine. This feeling has been reported in meeting after meeting where men who were strangers have come together and described an instant, special bond toward each other.


I now understand that term in my gut. And I understand how that feelings can have a profound effect in terms of motivation to do men's work.


Elliot Engel, a professor from North Carolina State Univ. wrote in Newsweek that men have "been raised with positive male images that only sanction either standing alone or standing together as a team."


Men coming together to share brokenness instead of victory is deemed unmanly. Sports or corporate teams, to fulfill the approved male mission, are the only ways of male connection. Men are left to share their full range of feelings only with women, usually mothers or wives or girlfriends, if they're shared at all.


As Elliot says, "In our society it seems as if you have to have a bosom to be a Buddy." As a result , too many men look to women for what they need from brothers.


We're cut off from relating to other men in meaningful ways. There's no room for shared feeling or true brotherhood in the modern male manual. There's no room for sharing what men need to share in order to mature.


As we'll see, brothers and elders are crucial to our hopes of becoming men. We're all cut off from our brothers and the family of men. We're all cut off from the source of our own manhood.



I believe that all men have a deep yearning and need for this feeling of brotherhood in order to deal with the seriousness of our lives. This need is so strong because it runs deeper than any one of us realizes. It goes deeper than our recent experiences or even our lifetime experience.


It's as if we're experiencing some of what men have experienced since family bonds first started, since fathers had sons and brothers wrestled with brothers. Many men speak of a genetic feel to it because it runs so deep.


This yearning for brotherhood is one example of the deep feelings that men have when they first come out of their goal-oriented numbness.


Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest who studies men's spiritual growth, emphasizes that what he's saying about these issues, men already know in their souls. Men are not surprised by what's said in many men's gathering because they already have a sense of the rightness of it.


Both Robert Moore and Sam Keen, using a computer analogy, talk of this knowledge being in the hardware of every man. They talk of men being wired in specific masculine ways. We're wired to need brothers.


We're wired to need older men. We're wired to yearn for a manhood we've not found in modern society. Yes, we're probably even wired not to ask for directions.


Men accused of numbness take note. Men who feel numb take note. The numbness is in the software. Men are hardwired to feel strongly, especially in the company of other men. The deep, passionate aliveness is in there.


There's a powerfully strong inner life of compassion and conviction in every man. The problem is in the program.


Enter Psychology

These hardwired feelings can be explained psychologically by the theories of Carl Jung, Freud's contemporary and main disciple. Jung broke with Freud's theories on some important points. One of those points had to do with the sudden brother feelings.


Jung theorized after exhaustive research that there's a part of our psyche that isn't immediately available to our awareness or experience. This unconscious part of ourselves is formed not only by our personal experiences, which was Freud's insight, but also by the accumulated experience of humanity as a whole.


With this part of our psyche we can personally experience the essence of what every man and woman has experienced who's lived before us. Jung called this part of our psyches the collective unconscious.


In the case of men, we feel so strongly about connecting to other men because connecting with other men in meaningful ways, both our peers and older men, has been a primal need in the mystery of manhood since the beginning of humanity.


This hardwired need resides in our collective unconscious. It changes at literally glacial, millennial speed. The faulty software resides in our personal unconscious, our personal history and training. Its genesis is in the modern training manual.


The software can be changed in a lifetime or in an intense time in life.


Jung went on to posit that there were certain universal, emotional experiences that repeated themselves so often throughout history that we naturally yearn for these familiar patterns in our lives. He called these patterns archetypes of experience.


i.e., why are our social structures often developed around a single, male figure at the top of a hierarchy? These may be kings, presidents, bosses, coaches, gang leaders. We often refer to them as father figures.


The archetypal experience of having a father as head of a family or clan would be lived out in these structures. We'd be reacting to a father archetype when we react to a male leader figure.


Since men archetypically search for an experience of father and men have had the historic political power to create social structure, many of our political structures are based on a patriarchal or father model. This is the model of a man at the top. And most men react archetypically with loyalty and obedience to that top man.


Men have an archetypal yearning for male leaders that will give society direction just as they have a deep yearning for a father who'll give them personal direction.


If women had the political power, there's a good chance they'd create a political structure based on a different archetypal experience.


Another example of an archetypal experience relates to why men react so strongly to the assignment of a mission. Men have the archetypal experience of the warrior in their psyches as a result of thousands of years of training and participation in war.


Men are often like a war horse waiting only for the war trumpet to sound. Leaders who understand this hardwired warrior personality can motivate us to their own ends by appealing to our martial instincts, as well as our needs for father.


By installing and manipulating our software they can control the warrior in each of us and thus our behavior and mission. Good warriors don't question the mission. Many men felt manipulated in this way in their Vietnam experience.


Archetypal experiences reside in our collective unconscious. They can come out in different ways in our behavior and attitudes. We can act out an archetype in ourselves, like the warrior archetype, or react to one in someone else.


We can react to an archetype, i.e., by being loyal to the father archetype in the boss. We can act out an archetype, i.e., by feeling inferior and obedient to that boss, enacting the boy archetype. The boy archetype in us then responds to the father archetype in the boss by opening himself to the father's direction and leadership.


When a man enacts the boy archetype he feels and acts like a little boy. In the first part of this book I'll be emphasizing the boy archetype in all of us. For this archetype holds one of the main keys to our manhood.


We can also enact many different archetypes in our lives without realizing it. i.e., we can be both fathers and boys at different times in the same day. i.e., most men are trained to be fathers at work and boys at home. This is why many men are much more comfortable at work than at home.


It isn't necessary to understand this theory of archetypes as much as it's necessary to be aware of how we're affected by them. If we start looking at human behavior from an archetypal viewpoint it isn't as random as we might believe.


There are many archetypes that affect us intimately every day. If we don't realize their existence and power we're not really free men. We end up reacting to powers we don't understand. We end up going on missions we haven't freely chosen. We end up feeling like boys in men's bodies.


One of the archetypes that Jung named was the archetype of the initiate. The initiation experience has formed men over tens of thousands of years. Rites of male puberty initiation have been performed throughout most cultures for most of history. These rites were the formal process of a boy becoming a man.


Adolescent boys for millennia have universally yearned for manhood through these rites. Tribal elders in countless cultures have realized their duty to guide boys into finding their manhood through their initiatory traditions.


As Mircea Eliade, author of the book Rites and Symbols of Initiation writes that "to gain the rite to be admitted among adults, the adolescent has to pass through a series of initiatory ordeals: it's by virtue of these rites and of the revelations they entail, that he'll be recognized as a responsible member of the society."


He goes on to say that for indigenous peoples "a man is made - he doesn't make himself all by himself". He cannot do it alone.


The strong reaction to my workshop experience makes sense archetypically. Coming to a workshop with other men and wanting to learn about serious issues of manhood can trigger the archetype of the initiate.


I felt just like young, frightened but eager adolescents before me as they went in groups to start the rites of their own manhood. Most men at the workshop experienced the same archetype of the initiate and felt that yearning and call.


Most men experienced the call in communion with other men as initiatory brothers. Most men experienced a quickening that came from deep inside.


For thousands of years, even until today in some cultures, the process of undergoing these rites was as significant as anything the man would do in his whole life.


The results of the rites were the possession of his full manhood. Manhood meant full and equal participation in the life of the community, with access to all the values and the power that community had to give.


This manhood also included the responsibility of carrying on the values, this sacred trust, to the next generation. Most importantly these rites gave and still give in some cultures, what many men yearn for.


They gave a sense of internal peace and rightness to a man's life.


Modern Initiation

Today we have no rites that truly give us a sense of manhood. We're deprived of an authentic manhood training manual. We do have little rituals that have some archetypal flavor to them.


Getting one's driver's license is one. Being able to drink is another. Graduating from high school or college has some sense of accomplishment and graduation gives us some new social rights in the job market.


Marriage is another. The closest is probably boot camp in the military. Yet we'll see how that rite, as well as the others, leaves so much to be desired as a rite of manhood.


How about cigarette smoking and manhood? A 1995 New York Times article about the marketing of cigarettes, especially to young men, quotes a marketing guru. Alan Brody talks of the cowboy as the modern warrior and the Marlboro man as the ultimate man.


He goes on to say that "we as a society have abandoned tribal initiation rites and cigarettes are a substitute; kids want to prove themselves and play the role of adults. When you rob people of something they want, marketers find a way to give it to them."


How about sports and manhood? Sam Keen says that "for many boys, making the team and winning a letter in high school is a kind of first rite of initiation."


It's clear that our society does believe that what a boy learns in sports will prepare a boy for the real world of manhood. And so many successful business executives use sports analogies in talking of their business plans.


They make "end runs" around their competitors, "slam dunk" a sale, hit a "home run" strategy in order to be "winners". Our cultural models of manhood reside in the NBA and the NFL. Unfortunately our cultural models of manhood are boys, not elders, who have no idea of what manhood is about.


Yet many other young boys and many older ones, satisfy their yearning for ways to manhood by idolizing them.


So how do we become men today without any rite of initiation? Is this lack of a true rite the reason men are burnt out? How do we become mature men inside? These are the questions to be addressed in this book. And they take us into the modern realm of psychology as well as the ancient realm of ritual and spirituality.


I believe the initiation archetype and the yearnings of the initiate, still hold a key to a modern understanding of a man's path to maturity. There's something hardwired in all of us that still motivates us to find something more about being a man.


There's something that tells us we haven't gotten it yet.


Ancient elders still have something to tell us. Their teachings are so powerful because they're part of our own deep history. Because they're archetypal their teachings also keep recurring in our history in the words of modern elders. The teachings of ancient and modern elders occur today in forms that go unnoticed by a society of uninitiated men.


The heart of the teaching is unchanged throughout the centuries. Fortunately, elders are still there waiting to teach.


This book will describe a modern psychological process of becoming a man based on clues from ancient and modern elders. It describes a modern process of initiation.


This book isn't meant to be a self-help manual but an invitation to initiatory ordeal. As we go through the process of the ancient and modern initiatory ordeal I hope you'll feel a deep connection.


From that connection I hope you find the motivation to go through your own initiation.


Any initiation ritual puts one's whole life on the line. This is serious business. Initiates throughout history have faced the real possibility of death. Some initiates did die in their ordeal. Now, as in previous times, manhood doesn't come easily. The issues brought up in this book are painful, difficult issues. But the rewards are also invaluable.


The emerging men's movement, described in this book, can be seen as the genetic, hardwired, archetypal part of every man erupting again on a larger and larger scale. It's really a modern form of an ancient movement.

The collective unconscious is again flexing its archetypal muscles, attempting to initiate men today. Elders are speaking today like they've spoken for thousands of years. I believe there's a hardwired part of all of us that wants and needs to listen.

The American Red Cross