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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
using a training manual for manhood that's flawed and out of date.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.
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.
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.
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
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.
are now looking at what we now consider healthy human behavior and comparing that to typical male behavior in the business
and social world.
are now questioning the health statistics that show how supposedly satisfied men are prematurely dying in droves.
A New Movement of Men
There 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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
that tells us we haven't gotten it yet.
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.
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.
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.