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Section 7

Question 7 | Test | Table of Contents

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One issue we've been examining in this course is the struggle that many depressed men face between being masculine and being feminine. Too often, depressed males try to be anti-feminine, or whatever the females around them are not. For instance, they sometimes oscillate between experiencing the wrongs of their childhood in exercises like "Reparenting" and trying to move past their childhood, like "Letting Go of the Victim." Even in complete forgiveness, which we have just discussed in the last section, men face the daunting challenge of balancing their negative feelings of abuse with loving feelings like forgiveness.

But with all these seeming opposites, as you know, both sides are important. Men need both aspects of this apparent paradox. If they do not embrace the paradox, they become unbalanced by refusing to hold the tension and experiencing only a part of the paradox.

Expressing Emotions
A good example of this is in my client, Scott, whom I was treating for depression. Scott, a 33-year-old computer technician, had trouble balancing the tension between expressing his opinions and keeping them in. As you know, it is generally helpful for men to express their emotions, and many men simply do not do it enough. Upon seeking therapy with me, Scott told me that his wife, Diane, had said he was too closed-in, too secretive about what he was feeling. Scott said after that, he decided to try being more open. He expressed his opinions and feelings at nearly everything, and at times he even hurt Diane's feelings. Also, he said he made the mistake of pouring out his emotions to a buddy of his. His friend did not respond to his feelings, and Scott felt vulnerable.

I told Scott that it was admirable of him to try to express himself more. However, I said, sometimes we run the risk of going overboard. Just as important as revealing our secrets is maintaining our personal boundaries. Striking the balance between the two would be difficult, I told Scott. But as you know, often it takes the hardening of their boundaries for men to convince themselves that they can exercise the option of revealing their emotions when necessary.

The 4 Parts of Maleness
Another part of embracing paradox is for men to accept and welcome their Four Parts of Maleness. Developed by Moore and Gillette, these four realms are manifestations of both the emotional and physical bodies of men. These four realms are represented by various archetypes:
a. First is the King
b. Second
is the Warrior
c. Third
is the Magician, and
d. Fourth is the Lover.

As you know, focusing on one of these four realms can be dangerous. The way, then, to avoid being possessed by one aspect is to actively and consciously carry all four roles. This way, a man can remain balanced and allow different parts of his emotional and physical being to support him.

Positive and Negative Parts to these 4 Archetypes
You already know that each of these four archetypes has its positive and negative parts. The healthy side of the King, for instance, is that he is generative, creative, responsible for right order, and willing to sacrifice himself. The unhealthy side of the King, or the Shadow, is his capability of being either a tyrant or a weakling beneath the surface.

Many men act out both the mature and immature aspects of each of the realms. This is inevitable. But depressed men can work to continually manifest their King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover in increasingly mature ways.

Embracing paradox, in short, is another way of accepting the self. We've talked a good deal about the need for depressed men to learn more about themselves, try to change what is bad, and cherish what is good. This is indeed a way for your depressed client experiencing shame obtain a more positive out look and thus treat others with equal respect and acceptance.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Gebhard, K. T., Cattaneo, L. B., Tangney, J. P., Hargrove, S., & Shor, R. (2019). Threatened-masculinity shame-related responses among straight men: Measurement and relationship to aggression. Psychology of Men & Masculinities, 20(3), 429–444.

Isacco, A. (2015). Measuring masculinity: Developmental contexts, men’s health, and qualitative research. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 16(2), 141–144. 

Reilly, E. D., Rochlen, A. B., & Awad, G. H. (2014). Men’s self-compassion and self-esteem: The moderating roles of shame and masculine norm adherence. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 15(1), 22–28.

What are the archetypes of the four realms of men? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

Section 8
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