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Men Want...... : Wake-Up Call for "Real Men"
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From: MSN NicknameSilken2004  (Original Message)Sent: 8/22/2006 10:56 AM
Wake-Up Call for "Real Men"
It is time for "real men" to wake up and help themselves solve a national health crisis, both of body and mind.

Physical Health

According to a recent issue of PA Today, there is a silent health crisis among males in the United States. This crisis is not simply about prostrate cancer or heart disease. It incorporates the generally poor health status of men in general and "real men" in particular.

Morality statistics reveal the following problems:

  • Men lead in almost all of the top 15 causes of premature death.
  • Men have an average life expectancy that is seven years shorter than that of women.

Men top the charts in such health hazards as smoking, drinking, dangerous jobs, sports injuries, drunk driving, and victims of violent crimes.

Joe Zoske, a health care consultant specializing in men's health and wellness opines, "Studies show this due not to biology, but rather gender conditioning. In striving to be 'real men,' they live higher-risk lifestyles, driven by internalized messages of competition, invulnerability, control, emotional suppression, and independence. So when symptoms occur, they have learned to not acknowledge them and tough-it-out alone, leaving them isolated from information, interventions, and support.

"This waste of men and gender mind-set can no longer by justified by survival needs. Men are no longer hunters in our society."

Yet boys are still taught to be tough, not cry, suppress emotions, and be strong at all costs. In fact, we teach our boy children that all of this is necessary to become a man.

Relating, nurturing, caring, listening, fostering, allowing emotions, seeking medical aid and the like are for women. "Real men" are only allowed three emotions:

  • Humor
  • Anger
  • Sexual feelings.

According to Zoske, this male "code of masculinity" is internalized and becomes a script for a life of "stress, needless injury and illness, and an early grave."

In addition, some men connect the life of a "real man" with a diet of meat, even including beef on a regular basis. Study after study has shown what a diet high in animal fats does to health. In fact, only the food industry itself promotes milk, eggs, meat, fish, chicken, and other animal products as a necessity of a balanced diet.

Although changing male psychology is hard, and grows even harder as a man ages, our society must engage our husbands, sons, brothers, and partners in learning about their bodies, allowing health assessments, and generally improving lifestyles habits to give men the vitality and longevity we think they deserve.

Mental Health

Socially, single men seem to have it easier than single women. They can go to the local bar every night alone. It is always considered permissible, even by their maiden Great Aunt Matilda, for a man to ask a woman out. The world in general and single friends and buds in particular all try to be a matchmaker for the single man.

Why, then, are so many single men seem lonely, lonely to the point of being self-destructive?

Rae Andre麓, Ph.D., in her book Positive Solitude A Practical Program for Mastering Loneliness and Achieving Self-Fulfillment, writes that single men and women differ in the relationships they have with family and friends and in their tendency to feel isolation because of these relationships. Single men tend to be more isolated from their own families than do single women, and probably experience more loneliness here.

In addition, the competitive nature of men sets them apart from other men. This often precludes a friendship close enough to help hold loneliness at bay.

This loneliness is usually well hidden, however. Few men feel able to acknowledge their loneliness and speak about it. If, on the rare occasions they do, it is invariably seen as personal failure, their fault, their social inadequacy by much of society and often by the men themselves, too.

According to Gina Levete in her book Letting Go of Loneliness, this inability to acknowledge and solve loneliness problems can result in harmful patterns of behavior in extreme cases.  To prove they are one of the crowd, or to forget that they are not, drinking, gambling, drugs, and sex become addictive substitutes for some men which destructively cover up a sense of profound inner loneliness.

Men also hesitate to seek help professionally.

How many lonely men with average-to-good circumstances make use of the therapeutic or counseling support that is available?

Not many, particularly if it is only to seek help for loneliness. In fact, men usually wait until a more tangible, specific problem arises, one that can be easily expressed and understood, to seek help, if they seek help at all.

In certain instances there is justification for such hesitancy. Not all professionals are sympathetic to the subject of loneliness. There may be a tendency to write it off as a "normal" human condition while moving on to a more tangible problem, one that in fact may have been caused by loneliness.

Although loneliness is acknowledged by many doctors to be a huge social problem, when male professionals refer to loneliness the examples cited are nearly always female.  Fortunately, though,   there are many therapists who do work with lonely men.

This loneliness and feeling of apartness with other men sends more than one single man rushing back into marriage.  When closeness with a woman and her nurturing abilities are the chief reasons for marriage, even if they are unconscious, men may be setting  themselves up for another trip to the divorce courts and/or future physical problems.

And certainly marriage is no cure for loneliness. Unless people have an ability to reach out to another person emotionally, and many men in our society do not, marriage is a lonely place, too.

Married men with successful, vibrant careers, "real men" by anyone's standards, often feel isolated and apart, even in marriage and family life. This is what a few had to say:

"My kids don't talk to me the way they do to my wife. I feel excluded."

"I always have to be the strong father-image and keep order in the troops. Even when I am with my wife and kids, I often feel apart from them."

"My wife and I have lots of friends. But they are really her friends and her friends' husbands. Sometimes I feel  apart from the whole group."

"Ever since I was a child I have had this feeling of apartness. I had good parents and I have a wonderful wife. Why, I don't know. I just feel apart from other people."

Although changing male psychology is hard, and grows even harder as a man ages, our society must engage our husbands, sons, brothers, and partners in learning about their bodies, allowing health assessments, and generally improving lifestyles habits to give men the vitality and longevity we think they deserve.

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