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Shame, & Struggles with Anger
More than 80 percent of the men who took the Male Stress Survey said they
had been physically violent at some point during their lives-some while at war,
some while in love, some when at play, and some in self-defense. Why is male conflict
so common? It's not just testosterone. I suspect it's also in part because of
the internal conflicts males must live with. Their inner fights become outer fights.
They say they have mixed feelings about religion, marriage, monogamy, and the
work ethic. Many, in fact, said that they had mixed feelings about "everything!"
male anger, then, may be due in part to chronic male agitation about conflicting
demands and unresolved attitudes. It may also, however, be overdetermined-that
is, it may have more than one cause. Male aggression, overt or covert, may also
be due to the following:
1. A rehearsal effect. During their
younger years, boys fight. They fight for fun, playing war. They fight for their
school, playing sports. They fight for their girlfriends, playing around. Now,
as adults, they await the "real thing."
2. A modeling effect. Men
see men fight in the sports arenas, in films, on television, as police, as firefighters.
They have seen violence "work."
3. A releasing factor. Many men experience
a surge of aggression when they drink alcohol, which is referred to as a releasing
factor. Aggression that they can easily inhibit when they are sober becomes disinhibited
when they are intoxicated. If their drinking is the result of being aggravated
in the first place, the aggression released is likely to be particularly volatile.
4. A rechanneling factor. As unacceptable as aggression may seem to be, many
men have learned that dependency needs, fears, some sexual impulses, sadness,
and even love are less acceptable. Tension from these other areas may be rechanneled
into the expression of anger or aggressiveness. Homophobia, for example, may be
explained as a man's fear of his own more "feminine" emotions being
rechanneled into a rage reaction to homosexuals.
5. A reaction result. Suppressing
and repressing reactions to frustration will not succeed forever. The more a man
denies his angry impulses, the more indirectly those impulses are likely to be
building force. If he is not recognizing his feelings and using up the adrenaline
in a constructive way, he is likely to react rather than act on his feelings.
anger, like all long-term stresses, wears and tears on psychological and physical
resources. It leaves little energy for giving out love, little room for taking
in love, and little motivation for making love. Therapist Terrence Real in How
Can I Get Through to You? (Reconnecting Men and Women) calls it "toxic masculinity"-and
warns that it leads to "the legacies of drinking, womanizing, depression,
and fury." So chronic anger not only increases male stress, it also interferes
with avenues of stress reduction.
- Witkin, Georgia, The Male Stress Survival
Guide, NewMarket Press: New York, 2002.
Personal Reflection Exercise Explanation
The Goal of this Home Study Course is to create a learning experience
that enhances your clinical skills. Thus, space has been provided for you to make
personal notes as you apply Course Concepts to your practice. Affix extra Journaling
paper to the end of this Course Content Manual. We encourage you to discuss the
Personal Reflection Journaling Activities, found at the end of each Section, with
your colleagues. Thus, you are provided with an opportunity for a Group Discussion
experience. Case Study examples might include: family background, socioeconomic
status, education, occupation, social/emotional issues, legal/financial issues,
death/dying/health, home management, parenting, etc. as you deem appropriate.
A Case Study is to be approximately 150 words in length. However, since the content
of these Personal Reflection Journaling Exercises is intended for
your future reference, they may contain confidential information and are to be
applied as a work in progress. You will not be required to provide
us with these Journaling Activities. Only the Test is to be returned
to the Institute.
Reflection Exercise #6
The preceding section contained information
about male stress and struggles with anger. Write three case study examples regarding
how you might use the content of this section in your practice.
What are five possible causes of male aggression whether overt or covert?
Record the letter of the correct answer the .