Showing posts with label Psychology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Psychology. Show all posts

May 18, 2015

Love in a Small Town Hurts so Good


Say Goodbye to Mr. Right

We know that when the picking is poor like in a small town, then if you want to have a partner in a place where the pickings are not good you settle.  You see some good looking guy, hard working family man with the ugliest woman one would have the misfortune to see. Talk about a double bagger  here, with buck teeth and all. Still she is got a hell of a good catch. How in heavens did it happens?

The reasons are simple for this.  He wanted to have a family or leave home so he got what he got. The same goes for the girl. Being that Im a guy I can see a guys view point better but there is no difference between the two sexes unless she decides to go to college and meet a guy there. For a guy is more difficult because he is seen as the supporting part. Sometimes even before he’s finished High School he needs to go to work to help his family if they are poor or if there is a missing parent or too many siblings.

If the guy is gay, chances are that he went to college and moved to a bigger town but not all can do that. There will be some male gays coming from poor families that have to do the same as the straight part, settle and for the gay guy the pickings are even less in quantity and quality based on the laws of percentages.

Ok so we know we can’t get Mr. Right in a small town unless one has certain benefits such as higher education, well off parents, friends in other cities. But all of those things are the exception not the rule. You get Mr. Right by the pickings. If you are lucky he bad looking but good in bed and a good partner. If you picked wrong then you are in a hole. Ugly, bad in bed and also abusive? Keep reading I have better news.

Mr. Right in the City

So what happens to those that migrated to the big cities? The same thing that happens to the inhabitants of the large cities, there is no Mr. Right there either. We all dance in our own circles like a mechanical Duracell operated dancing monkey would. We pick from what is around us even with the internet that connect to us to people on the opposite coast or ocean. That makes no difference until the time of Star-trek catches up with our technology. Being that people cannot be transported from one city to the other it doesn’t matter how many good looking and seemingly good guys you have as friends. The harsh truth is that you will settle if you don’t want to be alone. Ask a single guy in their 40-70 age range how come they are still single (even if they’ve had past long relationships)? They will tell you is better to live alone than with the wrong guy.

If you take time using the internet and social media and go checking couples that you know or just couples that might go to the same circles as you go. Even the “singles looking for another”. What is a couple of half a couple doing there? How come you get the announcement of ‘engagement’ followed by loving, kissing pics of the couples that met but now they have found each other. Thats’ just great! But how come they are still coming back if they found what they were looking for?

I find that behavior comical, that an internet with so much to offer to couples, like reinforcement or how to work thru problems, gardening, parachuting while kissing, there is so much but they can’t break the cord, they need to stay known and see what else is there to compare how they did. They can’t break the cord because they are not sure of their pickings. If this one does not works out, well nobody likes to start all over from scratch. 

Picking is different than Choosing

I realized I have concentrated a lot on differences on the physical criteria. The reason for that is that you can’t see what is in people’s mind but you can see and read what the minds do. It is very possible to learn from the partner one picks When someone picks a partner that is only good in bed is not going to work out. However if one chooses a partner that help us dealing with our own lives and troubles even if you have to close your eyes and think about the studs on the shelves of porno you both share when having sex. Those relationships tend to last and thus my point of we don’t find Mr. Right as a rule but we settle for pickings, a Mr.Right.

Actually the more I write the more  certain Iam the tittle of this article should have been instead of “Love in small town hurts so good” it should be ‘Love anywhere hurts so good.’ If you not prepared for hurting you did a good thing to be 6o and still single. If you have survived your life at 50 and become single or have been single for a long time then you don’t need anyone to help you with your life or complete you. You have the freedom of being at a buffet, you can watch, smell and even pick and put in your plate but you don’t have to put it inside of you. If you have always been single you have a problem my friend, one needs to taste the food and only when one gets sick from the food one stays away, not eating at all makes you an expert on what you learnt in school, or read or watch on TV and nothing else because you never experienced love you are a puzzle missing a piece, a damaged game.

Adam Gonzalez

They were born in a small town;
Their parents lived in the same small town;
They played it safe in that small town,
And that’s prob’ly why we settle easily.


They were born in the big city. 
They look, they touch, they had so much.
Too many pickings too little time
and that’s  probably why we settled easily.

"Mr. Good Enough may be the ticket to evolutionary advantage”. (Nadine Ravner)

(West Coast FB Distribution Jeremy Hale)

March 2, 2014

The Secret That Became Me and Me Someone Else


When my husband's secret became my own, I learned the slow torment (and occasional titillation) of the secret keeper. In maintaining our decades-long deception, I grew to understand—and ultimately overcome—the identity-warping nature of secrets and lies.

Discovering that someone you love has lied to you and kept a secret feels like being hit by a bolt of lightning. Such is the circumstance of the finder, the person to whom the truth is revealed. The arc of your life is altered in an instant. Suddenly the present makes no sense and the future is impossible to picture.

I lived as both a secret finder and a secret keeper for much of the last half century. My story is about thunderbolts and denial. It's about the power that secrets have to attract and to repel. It's about the damage we suffer when we hide the truth.

When I first met Dick in 1959, he was a tall, handsome psychiatry resident at Yale; he was lovely, fun, kind, smart, a man with a quirky sense of humor and a serious reader. At my parents' urging, I had recently broken off an engagement with a medical school dropout, whom I had adored. After the intensity of that relationship, I appreciated Dick's coolness. He would drive to New York, and I would visit him in New Haven. We always had a good time at dinner or the theater. Yet there was something mysterious about him; he would retreat from intimacy in a way that piqued my interest; he was a true gentleman.
We married and I moved to New Haven. I got a job at the Yale University Press, and he finished his residency. The most important part of his day was his psychoanalytic session. I grew up in a family where everybody was in analysis (but me). Dick went six days a week, every week of the year; he was utterly serious about his analysis.

It was exciting to be young marrieds in New Haven; Dick was forging a career in psychoanalysis, I was a young editor, and we had our first baby. The senior Freudian psychoanalysts adopted us—Dick was their favorite and I might be their editor. We loved our life. Sometimes at lectures or pompous dinners we couldn't even look at each other, lest we erupt in giggles. We'd snuggle in bed talking over the silly and the intriguing; I would rest my head against his armpit. Sex was not a big part of our relationship. It didn't seem to matter. We were a great team. I loved him, he loved me.

When we tried to get pregnant the second time, things were not easy. We would start out fine, but then something would turn Dick off and he would go to sleep. Why wasn't Dick attracted to me? Was I too fat? Was I too busty? Maybe it was my pushy personality.

Eventually we did conceive our second son, and that pretty much ended our sex life. Dick reassured me, as a psychoanalyst, that people who were married more than a few years rarely made love. I believed him.

By the time our little one was 4, we had been married nearly nine years and Dick finished his psychoanalysis. Things began to change. He was involved in his work, I in mine, and we were so busy with the boys that we were no longer so close. We both were too distracted to worry. I had an affair at the time Dick ended his analysis. Knowing that a man found me sexually attractive reaffirmed a part of me, but it didn't mean as much as my marriage did.

Image: Man with leather mesh bag over his head
 Man with leather mesh bag over his headThen my career at Yale blew up. Dick was supportive and encouraged me to take a job in New York, even though it meant a two-hour commute each way. It was a rough time. Dick held the fort with two small sons, and we were exhausted. During this period, I noticed changes in Dick's behavior. He started taking long walks in the evening. On vacations he didn't stay with me in the hotel after dinner—more walks. Odd stories about his trips emerged. I was confused. Secrets close doors between people. The secret keeper has to skirt important subjects and becomes silent when the conversation gets too close. Meanwhile, the other person lives in a state of ignorance. You can't know what you don't know; all you can do is sense that something is awry. I confided in my friend. She agreed that he was distracted, like a fugitive at the dinner table. She suggested that I reassure him: Whatever his secret, I could take it, and I still loved him.
Dick had risen high in his field, and I was running Basic Books, a behavioral- and social-sciences publisher. We always went to the annual American Psychiatric Association meetings together. He presented papers and organized meetings, and I scouted authors and sold books. We were a power couple.

Then one night, at the APA meeting in San Francisco, Dick was a little late coming back to our room from a party for the Gay Caucus. When he came in, he looked anxious and sad, and he said, "I'm homosexual."

"You're what?"

"All the years in my analysis we tried to cure me, but it didn't work," he explained.

Telling is not simple for secret keepers who have dedicated much time and energy to the secret. It is painful and humiliating to explain feelings and motives under these circumstances. Even if they believe that they kept the secret for good reasons, they feel guilty. Faced with a loved one wanting the truth, people tend to pull back. Yet an honest account of the circumstances that led to the secret is often necessary to begin the process of healing.

Dick went on to tell me of trips to gay movie houses and risky episodes in men's rooms. His friends in the Gay Caucus had urged him to come clean to me that night. Everything that I had built my life for was in ruins. What would our future be? How could we survive this?

I took my friend's advice and reassured Dick of my love, but I was scared. So was Dick. We couldn't figure out our future. The Freudian circles where Dick was a star were severely homophobic; he couldn't come out as a gay man. He didn't want to give up his family, and he loved me. I didn't want to give him up, or the family, or our place in society, or our financial security.

Image: woman with egg crate foam covering her face
A woman with egg crate foam covering her faceBy the time we were back in New York, we were clear: We would stay married, he would stay in the closet. I would accept his absences. The boys, then 8 and 12, were not to be told, and neither was anybody else. We had built too much together. We could adjust—especially me.
We all have the unique ability to narrate our experiences—to ourselves. We are constantly processing and shaping the information that comes to our brains from our bodies and our senses. We organize all that input into narratives, which form the backbone of our identity. Some of them are about the past, others are about the present, and we use that same technique to imagine the future. In this way we can massage the chaos of our lives and transform it into our stories. This continuous conversation, much of which is unconscious, allows us to eliminate dangerous options. It helps us imagine survival strategies and even make good risk-taking decisions. These narratives are not immutable—they change as our experiences change—but they are fundamental. You have to reassemble your identity in a way that accounts for the new information.

What had been Dick's secret, from the time he was 8 years old, became mine. In 24 hours, I went from someone from whom a secret had been kept to a full-fledged secret keeper. The revelation and its aftermath actually brought us closer. The intimacy of a shared secret like ours is hard to equal—except perhaps the intimacy of a real marriage, but I didn't know what that looked like.

Many wives, faced with such a revelation, are furious, hurt, and feel deceived, so they kick their gay husbands out. Why didn't I have that response? I loved the facade we had built of a perfect family, and I couldn't bear to crack it apart. I didn't want to change my life. Once we make a decision, wise or foolish, we like to think it was a good one. If new information contradicts that belief, we experience cognitive dissonance, which is painful. So we unconsciously ignore the new information, shaping our reality instead to fit our sense of who we are. One element in the theory of cognitive dissonance is especially pertinent to marriages, good or bad, true or faithless: the commitment factor. If you work hard for something, you want to keep it and think it is wonderful. Besides, I had come to believe that I didn't deserve more.

Lonely as a child, I always kept my own counsel; I knew how to deal with unfairness and the difficulties strong personalities brought me. So I was ready to compromise. Now that we had a shared—and very important—secret to keep, our partnership was revitalized. I didn't understand then what it was going to cost me. What may start as a simple set of secrets can spread through a person's character like a cancer. Keeping a secret demands habitual denial, which gradually may morph into self-deception, resulting in the diminution of the self. Our discomfort with cognitive dissonance enables us to rationalize our decisions, right or wrong.

For a while, it worked fine. I protected him, and he supported me. When I was commuting to New York, Dick didn't complain, and when the commute became too much of a burden, he agreed to move. It meant giving up a prestigious psychoanalytic practice, and I appreciated the sacrifice. We had a bargain: Dick got two nights out, plus occasional weekends and holidays away. I got my family. He gave me permission to have affairs, though he didn't want to know about them. We pledged our love and loyalty. It looked as if we could survive forever.

Image: Man with fur covering his face
Man with fur covering his faceDick and I were a team. He covered for me when there was difficulty at work, and I edited his scholarly articles about homosexuality. I found him a publisher for his book, and attended all his speeches to keep him safely in the closet. There was one especially homophobic analyst whom we considered our enemy. I sat behind him at Dick's talks, so I could report how the color of this man's neck would change as he listened to Dick's presentation. Seven shades of red. We had fun. We shared a secret.
It wasn't hard to keep the secret from our sons. Our kindness and affection didn't change, and the image of a happy home life did not seem to be so different from an actual happy home life. We both lied about Dick's absences—he was an important psychoanalyst, he had meetings to attend. The boys were not suspicious; teenagers have their own lives and their own secrets to keep.

This was a lonely time for me. I threw myself into my career. People asked me how I had the energy to do all the things I did. "Recycled rage" was my answer. At the time I thought that my difficult mother was the source of my anger; it never dawned on me to be furious at Dick.

I was as isolated as a married woman with growing children, lots of friends, and a demanding career could be. I saw my role as the person who was responsible for everybody's feelings—except for my own.

Then my oldest friend, my father, and my beloved aunts all began to die. I dressed in dark clothing and wasn't much fun. It began to dawn on me that the marriage might not be so good for me in the long run. I went into therapy, and it took five years before things became clear. Most of my therapy sessions were spent on why I was prepared to put up with such a diminished life.

During those years, Dick was having trouble keeping his side of the bargain—staying in the closet. His gay circle grew, and he found it harder to deny his identity. On the verge of the publication of his first book, we were discussing the questions he might be asked in an interview.

"What if they ask if you're gay?" I said.

"I'll tell the truth; I owe it to my patients," he said.

The bargain would not hold. Dick was having as much trouble in our marriage as I was.

Our youngest son went away to college that August, and it was too quiet in the house. The home Dick and I had built together was disintegrating. He had the love of his life, even under constraints, and I had the Goldberg Variations and a Hebrew grammar book to study. I was so lonely it hurt. I hadn't told friends the secret of our marriage. The keeper worries about being found out. The keeper also tries to create an internal story that keeps self-judgment at bay. So we rationalize, and we explain, and we cover over the bright shiny truth. We tell ourselves stories about how much better off everybody is if they are ignorant. The keeper is afraid of change, of retribution, and of being judged.

Dick was away over Labor Day weekend, and I was waiting for him to come home so I could tell him how bad I was feeling. But when he arrived, before I could speak, he told me that our older son had come across evidence of Dick's lover. Dick asked our son to come home, and we sat with him. He was shattered. "My whole life has been a lie," he said as he left the house. We didn't hear from our eldest for weeks, and I never got the chance to tell Dick that day how painful my life had become.

We told our second son when he came home for Christmas break. He seemed less upset. By the following June, I knew it was over for me. I asked Dick for a divorce.

We moved through that summer and into the fall, I told people my secret, and I survived. They didn't blame me; I had always blamed myself for not seeing Dick's true nature. Perhaps Dick could have confided his concerns to me when we were courting. I might still have married him—at that time many people believed that homosexuality could be cured by therapy. But I would have had a choice. And, more important, I would not have blamed myself for my husband's lack of attraction to me.

Image: Woman with cone party hats covering her face and head
Woman with cone party hats covering her face and headOur family of four celebrated my 50th birthday at a fine restaurant. It was as if nothing would change, even though everything was about to.
Today I recognize the pattern of deceit and denial that our family lived. I endured the shock of revelation and the terrible knowledge that my life was based on a lie and would never be the same. I quickly chose to reframe my scenario as one of love and family. That made the deceit palatable to me, and it still does. Dick endured over 40 years of hiding his true self from the people he loved. It diminished his self-worth to the detriment of his relationships. He had to be different people in different places, a job nobody would choose. Did we make the right choices? All I can report is that we grew apart and we grew together. Like weeds at the bottom of a lake, we remain deeply rooted in each other's lives.

Managing a secret is work. The keeper stays alert; it's a full-time job. Truth brings relief—even though it is hard to bear, unpleasant to think about, and miserable to consider revealing. Sometimes we pay the price of truth when we look into the eyes of people we have disappointed. But we always imagined their disappointment—or we would not have kept our secret from the outset.

Some revelations stop relationships in their tracks. But others reveal the true person in our midst, the imperfect, limping, and often loving soul we cared about so much. And so we continue to care, and together we can rebuild, this time slowly, on a foundation of truth. We can build a house together, or a home, or a beautiful garden that is nourished by acceptance.

We have choices in this life, and we make mistakes. Forgiveness is not impossible, and the wholeness of spirit that comes from truth is cool and pure.

The Little Detective

In the absence of honest disclosure, children may twist facts into scenarios more dire than the truth.

There is a type of child I call the "little detective." When something is off kilter, these children need to find out what's happening, and they often do find clues that lead them closer to the truth. Being a little detective has an effect on the way these people handle difficult realities, the raw material of secrets, for the rest of their lives.

Brian* was 12 when his father died—ostensibly of pneumonia—several months after his parents separated in the 1960s. On the following Sunday, Brian was in the kitchen when the phone rang; it was his aunt asking for his mom. "My mother ushered me out of the kitchen." She closed the door, but he put his ear to the keyhole.

He heard the words "hospital" and "pills," and he realized that his father had not died of pneumonia—he had committed suicide. What Brian surmised that day was never discussed at home. When he brought up the subject, nobody would talk with him.

Children blame themselves for family misfortunes like divorce or illness, largely because of the "egocentric fallacy." "If I make a fuss over something I need, I'll get it" translates into "If something bad happens, it must be because of me." It's important for adults to help children understand, as they grow up, that they are not responsible for things over which they have no control—also, thoughts don't cause events.

Important people in Brian's life began to disappear. His dad's best friend, who had painted a portrait of his father, came to reclaim it. "He showed up a week after my dad died, handed me a football, and took the portrait," Brian recalls. He never saw him again. Then his uncle, his father's brother, stopped coming by. "I had been close to my uncle, and I felt betrayed when he disappeared."

Some years after his father's death, Brian mentioned to his mother how he missed his smart, funny, handsome, loving dad. His mother said, "You think he was so nice? He had an affair with so-and-so, he did this, he did that."

Gradually, the real story emerged. "It was kept secret that my dad was mentally ill." Brian also learned why so many people disappeared from his life after his father's death. They blamed his mother for the suicide. She had thrown him out of the house, and he landed in the hospital, depressed and hopeless.

Brian did find someone to talk to: Grandma. "She and I talked about my dad's suicide all the time." But it wasn't until she was 96 that the whole truth emerged.

"Your dad wrote a letter to your mother," his grandmother told Brian. In the letter, his father spelled out everything he had done; he apologized and begged for forgiveness. But Grandma confessed that she had torn that letter up. She had decided to protect her son's reputation, and that may have cost him his life.

The shock of this revelation still gives Brian chills. But his relationship with his grandmother and the intimacy of their many conversations sustained both of them throughout their lives. Shared secrets and intimacy are twins. Brian's intimacy with his grandmother could not be severed by that last terrible revelation.

There is a particular advantage for those who decide to be honest with children. Since we all fill in the blanks according to what we already believe about the world, and since teenagers still have an incomplete understanding of adult behavior, truthful conversations give parents the opportunity to offer their point of view, preventing a destructive one from taking root.

The Secret Family

A terrible revelation about one parent may shed positive light on another. Eugene* grew up in an old Victorian house; the attic was piled with cartons, packages, and castoffs. One afternoon in the 1970s, he found newspapers from World War II there; his father's name was on the front page. The article reported the story of Eugene's father, a prominent physician, who was divorcing his wife, a Frenchwoman. She had abandoned her husband and taken their children to North Africa, where she was living with a German general.

Eugene was shocked and scared. "I couldn't believe it. I felt sick." He didn't have the courage to confront his distant and formal parents. That weekend a friend of his father's came by, and Eugene asked him what he knew of the story. The friend said, "I think you'd better talk to your father."

Not long after, Eugene and his father went on a train excursion. On the trip, his father told the story of his first wife, his children, his divorce, and his marriage to Eugene's mother. In the 1930s, Eugene's father, who was practicing medicine in France, had fallen in love with and married his first wife, and they had twins. As the German invasion loomed, Eugene's father decided to take his family to America.

He had acquired passage to New York for the family and had set a time for his wife to bring the children to the wharf. They never appeared. At the time, the marriage was rocky, and Eugene's father assumed she didn't want to accompany him. After that, his father heard only rumors: She had attached herself to a German general; she had slept her way through North Africa.

At the end of the excursion, his father said, "I will never speak to you about this again."

So Eugene went to his mother, who said, "I can't speak about this." He returned to the attic, but all the cartons had been removed.

Some eight years later, when his father passed away, Eugene received a letter from his half-brother, Francois. In the 1990s, his French brother came to visit. He explained that his parents' marriage had been falling apart in the late 1930s. "My father abandoned us. He had long wanted to be rid of my mother—he hated her." On the eve of the German invasion, his father had boarded a ship bound for America, alone. Francois's mother, a daughter of a French military family, fled south. She lived in North Africa under the protection of the Vichy authorities. She never took up with a German officer, and she struggled to raise the twins until the war was over. They returned to Paris, where her family cared for them. Eugene's parents did try to gain custody of the twins, but to no avail. Eugene also learned that his own mother secretly mailed the children boxes of food, photographs, and money during the war. Francois relayed his gratitude for her generosity.

The ambiguity of Eugene's family history was impossible for him to bear. So he has come to a conclusion about his father. "My father should never have been a father; he wasn't a good one." He has chosen to adopt a terrible truth, in place of ambiguity. As for his mother, Eugene discovered a woman he never knew. Her demeanor throughout her life was cold and demanding. It would have been beyond Eugene's imagination to think of his strait-laced mother secretly sending food packages and money to her husband's former family in Paris. He could not fathom her going behind his back. The sorrow of recognizing the truth about his father has been mitigated by the warmth of discovering his mother's depths.

The Love Child

The search for the truth may also be a path to reconciliation. Maria* was 17 when she fell in love with a young man from the wrong side of the tracks; her parents were outraged, and her father kicked her out. "My daughter is dead," he shouted, slamming the front door on her. Maria took her exile to heart; she moved away and didn't even attend her mother's funeral.

Three decades later, in the 1990s, her aunt implored her to come home and visit her 81-year-old father. The homecoming was warmer than she'd expected, despite her discovery that her father had never received the birthday presents she had sent him—her mother had intercepted each one. It was only after his wife's death that her father sought to reconnect.

While looking through snapshots and photo albums, he leaned back and said, "I can't tell you how much I love you; I couldn't have loved you any more if you were my own daughter."

His English was not spectacular; Maria thought, maybe he meant flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood. "What exactly do you mean?"

"You didn't know you were adopted?"

Dead silence.

The next day, when she brought this revelation up, he denied ever having said it.

Her three aunts lived in the house next door. Each aunt had a floor, so Maria went up the stairs, seeking information. None of them would divulge a thing. One aunt replied: "Your father's a senile old man. He doesn't know what he's talking about."

Next, she went to her favorite cousin, who shook her head. "I am not allowed to speak of that."

She then reached out to her childhood friends.

"Are you sitting down?" one friend asked. "Your parents, Sal and Celia, had two boys; all of a sudden there's this little toddler; and everyone acted like she'd been there all the time, so we all acted like she had been there all the time."

Maria now knew this much. "I was dropped, deus ex machina, into the middle of Sal and Celia's household."

Finally, through a social worker, she got the name of her birth mother; she was no stranger, but an aunt who'd left town years before. Maria called the "aunt who turned out to be my mother."

"Little girl," the woman said, "I ain't your mama. Your mama lived over there in East Baltimore. Your mama died in Baltimore, and that's the only mama you ever had. Don't you be telling my husband nothing about you being my child, because you ain't my child. If you do, I've got a gun and I ain't afraid to use it."

Maria had discovered a story of the ages: An unmarried woman gets pregnant, and her sister raises the child. The explanation for the secrecy was self-evident: They were not about to parade their sister's shame in front of the neighborhood, but they wanted Maria to be a full member of their family, despite the fact that she landed in their house as a toddler. She also understood the bonds of loyalty and protectiveness that got her to Sal and Celia’s house, and that the whole story was wrapped in family—her family.

Image: Secrets and Lies Book Cover
Adapted from the book Secrets and Lies: The Price We Pay When We Deceive The People We Love  © Jane Isay, by arrangement with Doubleday, The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Random House.

Maria remembers how her parents sat with her on the steps of their brownstone, waiting for the bookmobile. She took the stack of books they handed her, and she read them all. This was her family; despite their not speaking for years, she belonged to them. The bombshell of her adoption, which could have further sundered her already tenuous family relationship, actually brought her home.

February 16, 2014

Manhood in 2014, What Does it Mean?

Associated Press file  Boxer Joe Louis watches his mother, Lila Brooks, fry chicken at home in Detroit, Mich. The feminist movement in the 1960s fractured the consensus and started gradual changes in Americans' perceptions of gender roles.  AP
 Traditionally, the American male was measured against the stoic hero who shook off all doubts, vanquished all foes and offered women a muscular shoulder to cry on.
But that was before feminism, gay-rights activism, metrosexuals. Husbands took on a greater share of housework and child care. The military welcomed women and gays. A romantic movie about gay cowboys, “Brokeback Mountain” won three Oscars. And last week, the ground shifted under the hyper-masculine realm of America’s most popular pro sport — the National Football League, it seems, will soon have its first openly gay player.
Off the playing field, in their daily lives, countless American men are trying to navigate these changes. For some, it’s a source of confusion and anxiety.
“Men are conflicted, ambivalent,” said James O’Neil, a psychology professor at the University of Connecticut who has written extensively on men’s struggles over gender roles.
“On one hand, they’ve been socialized to meet the old stereotypes,” he said. “On the other hand, particularly for men in their 30s and 40s, they begin to say, ‘That’s not working for me. It’s too stressful.’ They’re looking for alternative models of masculinity.”
But for other Americans, the upheaval is a good thing.
“Ultimately, confusion about modern masculinity is a good thing: It means we’re working past the outmoded definition,” wrote journalist and blogger Ann Friedman in a article last fall titled “What Does Manhood Mean in 2013?”
After World War II, there seemed to be an overwhelming consensus of what American manhood was all about. It was typified by Gary Cooper and John Wayne on the movie screen, by the GIs on America’s foreign battlefields, by the executives with homemaker wives and no corporate worries about gender diversity.
The feminist movement that emerged in the 1960s fractured this consensus and fueled significant, though gradual, changes in many Americans’ perceptions of gender roles and stereotypes. By now, although women remain underrepresented as CEOs, they comprise close to half the enrollment in U.S. medical and law schools, and are being welcomed into military combat units.
Over the same period, perceptions of manhood and masculinity also have evolved. Surveys show that husbands are handling far more housework and child-care than they used to, though still less than their wives. Soccer icon David Beckham proved that a male sports star with a celebrity wife could embrace nail polish and flamboyant fashion without losing his fans.
“The women’s movement showed that women didn’t want to be restricted by their gender role, and it’s opened things up for men to not be restricted as well — they can be stay-at-home dads, they can be nurses,” said Bonnie Grabenhofer, a vice president of the National Organization for Women, though from her perspective the pace of change has been “agonizingly slow.”
Fatherhood remains a key element in the discussion of masculinity, and there seems to be broad support for encouraging fathers to be more engaged in child-rearing than they were in the past. As evidence, Christopher Brown, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative, notes that the military is investing more energy these days in supporting soldiers’ roles as parents.
“Fathers are really embracing that broader role,” said Brown. “It’s become accepted that they can share more of the work, and more of the joy.”
Ask Tom Burns of Ferndale, Mich. He chose his current job with a Detroit-area publishing company because it offered flexible working hours that give him more time with his daughter, who’s in second grade.
“I could have taken a better paying job with less flexibility ... but I can’t imagine how I would function,” said Burns, 36. “I use the time piecemeal to make sure I can attend concerts, do class functions. It was important to have a career that allowed me that work/home balance.”
Among the growing (but still small) cohort of stay-at-home dads is Ben Martin of Brookline, Mass., husband of a physician.
“My wife, Wendy, brings home the bacon, I cook it, and our two kids (ages 9 and 7) would eat it, except our 7-year-old is too picky to eat bacon,” Martin wrote recently on his blog.
In a telephone interview, Martin, 35, said his goal “is to be as good a husband and father as I can be.”
“I’m going to do what’s practical, what’s right for my family,” he said. “I like to think of that as a trait that a lot of men would appreciate.”
Still, Martin says he knows few other stay-home dads. “I get curious looks sometimes when I drop the kids off at school,” he said. “It’s a little isolating at times.”
James O’Neil, the UConn professor, would like to see an expansion of psychological support for men wrestling with changing expectations.
“There’s denial about men having problems related to gender roles,” he said. “We need to break through that.”
Gays as well as heterosexuals have played a role in the changing concepts of masculinity. Certainly, Michael Sam — the all-American defensive end who told the rest of the country what his University of Missouri coaches and teammates already knew, that he was gay — is already helping break down stereotypes about gay men.
But there were many examples before him, including Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis and NFL players such as Jerry Smith and David Kopay, who came out after they retired. Louganis, while still in the closet, impressed the world with his fortitude at the 1988 Seoul Olympics by winning the gold medal despite suffering a concussion in a preliminary round.
“When it comes to gay men, the script is being rewritten,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization. “It’s a wonderful thing happening as the definition of manhood evolves, and it becomes more inclusive of more types of men.”
Merriam-Webster defines manhood as “the qualities (such as strength and courage) that are expected in a man.” Such qualities should be preserved, even amid all the changes, says Holly Sweet, a Boston-area psychologist and co-director of the Cambridge Center for Gender Relations.
“There are so many good things about being a man — being a provider, being honorable, taking care of others, taking responsibility, being fair,” she said. “It’s not about picking on gays or dissing women.”

January 18, 2014

Teenage Boys Anxious About Being too Skinny in Danger of Depression and Steroid use

two super-slender male models

USA— Teenage boys who think they’re too skinny when they are actually a healthy weight are at greater risk of being depressed as teens and as adults when compared to other boys, even those who think they are too heavy, according to findings published by the American Psychological Association.  
Boys who inaccurately see themselves as overweight are also more likely to be depressed than boys who think they are of average weight, but their risk is not as significant as the boys who think they are very underweight, according to a study (PDF, 128KB) published online in the APA journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity®.  
Teenage boys who feel they are underweight and report being the victim of bullying are also more likely to use steroids and feel depressed than other boys their age, according to another study (PDF, 110KB) published in the same journal.
 “These studies highlight the often underreported issue of distorted body image among adolescent boys,” said Aaron Blashill, PhD, staff psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and faculty member at Harvard Medical School, who led both studies. “Teenage girls tend to internalize and strive for a thin appearance, whereas teenage boys tend to emphasize a more muscular body type. We found that some of these boys who feel they are unable to achieve that often unattainable image are suffering and may be taking drastic measures.”
Blashill’s research was based on two large, nationally representative samples of teenage boys in the U.S. The first sample included 2,139 boys who were about 16 years old in 1996 at the beginning of the study and were followed for 13 years.
Boys who perceived themselves as very underweight, but actually were average weight or higher, reported the highest level of depressive symptoms. These findings remained constant across the span of the study, which ended when the participants were close to 30 years old. 
Researchers surveyed the participants three times about six years apart to assess depressive symptoms, body image perceptions and the participants’ body mass index. To measure body image perceptions, the researchers asked the boys to rate their current weight, ranging from “very underweight” to “very overweight.” They then compared those ratings with the participants’ BMI.  
There were 1,433 white participants, 513 black and 235 Hispanic. The rest of the sample identified themselves as Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American or “other.”
In Blashill’s other study, he also found boys who perceived themselves as underweight were more likely to feel depressed than their peers who were average or overweight, which may be one of the reasons they turned to steroids, he said. The data came from a 2009 nationally representative survey of 8,065 ninth- through 12th- grade boys in the U.S. 
Overall, 4 percent of the participants in the second study reported ever using steroids and 3 percent reported they were very underweight. Boys who perceived themselves as underweight were more likely to be victims of bullying and report more depressive symptoms which, in turn, predicted steroid use.
Clinicians working with depressed teenage boys, particularly those who think they are underweight and/or bullied based on their appearance, should be mindful of the possibility of steroid use, Blashill suggested. 
“Unfortunately, there is little evidence-based research on effective therapies for steroid use among adolescent boys,” he said. “However, cognitive-behavioral therapy has proven to be effective for body image concerns and could be helpful for boys considering using or already using steroids.”

Article: "Body Image Distortions, Weight, and Depression in Adolescent Boys: Longitudinal Trajectories into Adulthood,” Aaron J. Blashill, PhD, and Sabine Wilhelm, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Psychology of Men & Masculinity, online Dec. 23, 2013.
Article: “A Dual Pathway Model of Steroid Use Among Adolescent Boys: Results from a Nationally Representative Sample,” Aaron J. Blashill, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Psychology of Men & Masculinity, online Dec. 23, 2013. 

August 4, 2013

How to Find Your Mate

When searching for a mate, most of us carry around a list of criteria or qualities that we tell ourselves we're looking for. A brief perusal of any Internet dating site yields many such lists: "A sense of humor, a sense of adventure, and good teeth" says one. "Owns his own business, likes to travel, and works out," says another. Curiously, however, we often end up with mates who seem to lack many if not most of the qualities we said we wanted. Why is that? 

One reason may be that people don't come custom-order and we must all inevitably make compromises if we don't want to end up alone. On the other hand, many "mate" choices people make are more than just a little surprising given the criteria they claimed to have been using. In some cases, it's as if their shopping list was completely tossed aside.
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In fact, this is often exactly what happens. As with everything else, our conscious minds play second fiddle to our unconscious desires. That is to say, we may think we know what we want in a mate, but the real qualities we find attractive—the real reasons for the choice we ultimately make—are often quite different from what we tell ourselves they are.
Or, at least, the relative importance of each quality we want is different. To play into stereotypes for just a minute, maybe a woman's physical beauty is so great we find ourselves completely ignoring that she never finished high school even though we thought we wanted a professional. Or a man's wealth is so enormous we find ourselves ignoring that he drinks too much.
The problem, of course, is that our unconscious minds are frequently as poor at choosing a mate as are our conscious ones. Should we really value an adventurous spirit over honesty? Or good hygiene over fashion sense? Or common values over common interests? It really is a complex calculation we need to make when choosing a mate, made all the more difficult not only because no perfect answer ever exists, but also because no good, or even great, answer we come up with today is guaranteed to be a good, or even great, answer tomorrow. People often change over time in unpredictable ways,
But I would argue that there's one variable almost none of us includes in these calculations that make all other variables almost insignificant: What kind of person does the person we choose turn us into?
The self-fulfilling prophecy theory of social interaction argues that the way we expect other people to behave alters our behavior in such a way that causes them to fulfill our expectations. This was demonstrated in a study by researcher Mark Snyder and colleagues when they randomly assigned fifty-one male undergraduates to look at one of eight photographs of female undergraduates (four of which had been rated as attractive and four of which had been rated as unattractive by other men previously) and asked them for their initial impressions. Once they'd confirmed the findings of previous research that showed men expected attractive women to be warmer than unattractive women, they asked the men to engage in telephone conversations (so they couldn't see to whom they were talking) with the women whose photographs they'd seen. Unbeknownst to the men, however, none of the women with whom they talked were the women in the photographs. When blinded observers then evaluated tape recordings of the conversations, they found that the men who spoke with women they thought were attractive (and who they therefore expected to be warm) were warmer in conversation than the men who spoke with women they thought were unattractive (who they therefore expected not to be warm), confirming that the expectations the men had of the women affected their own behavior. Even more interesting, though, was that the women who the men thought were attractive were also rated by the blinded observers as warmer in conversation than the women who the men thought were unattractive. Thus, the expectations that the men had for the women drove the way the men behaved toward the women, which in turn drove the way the women behaved toward the men.
Further, other research suggests that when we make our behavior conform to another person’s expectations, we tend to internalize those expectations, which makes us more likely to repeat that behavior in the future. Not only that, but we also tend to attribute our subsequent behavior not to previous expectations others have had of us but to our own disposition, especially if multiple people confirm our self-perception in multiple contexts. Thus, if our parents, our teachers, and our friends all treat us as if we’re helpless, helpless is what we’ll believe ourselves to be and thus what we’ll likely become.
How does all this apply to mate selection? Brad Pitt is reputed to have said about his divorce from Jennifer Aniston: "I didn't like who I was when I was with her." We spend most of our time around other people. If other people, by virtue of who they are, pull out of us people we ourselves don't like, we'll end up spending most of our time as people we don't want to be. And arguably no one has a greater ability to impact who we are than our mate.
The problem, of course, is that who our mates pull out of us also changes over time. Initially, they likely pull out someone we like very much: our excited, passionate, happy selves. Later, however, as our relationship evolves, they may begin to pull out of us parts our ourselves we don't like at all: our angry, demanding, or even depressed selves. Ultimately, of course, we bear the responsibility for who we are. But the way we influence who we are isn't by simply deciding to be different. We have to be clever. We have to pull levers—arrange positive influences—that actually yield the changes we want. Who we choose to spend our lives with may be one of the most powerful influences of all. Though we can't necessarily predict who they'll pull out of us in the future, we can at least ask ourselves who they pull out of us now. And if we don't like that person, no matter how much we may like the person we want to choose, perhaps we should think twice about making them our choice.

Dr. Lickerman's book, The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self, is available now. Please visit Amazon  to order your copy today!

May 4, 2013

Psychopaths Like Luka Magnotta Could Be Identified by a Cat Scan

Children who were aggressive or cruel had reduced brain activity in response to images of others in pain
What set these individuals apart is that they have no empathy.  They are not moved by anyone’s suffering no matter how close that or those persons are to them.

  • Researchers at University College London found that children diagnosed with 'conduct problems' react abnormally to seeing people in pain
  • Regions of the brain affected are those known to play a role in empathy
  • But expert says it is important to 'view these findings as an indicator of early vulnerability, rather than biological destiny’ 

 It’s been s subject bothering criminal psychologists since there was a field of psychology. First it was thought that it was up bringing, then that it was physical like the wiring of the brain was not correctly done by the brain cells. But the biggest question is been how do you recognize one early enough in life so that through medical and medicinal  intervention one could make a difference and avoid or predict situations in which we have seen psychopaths killed their own family, wife kids, parents for no apparent reason. In one of the cases in file you had the husband, ex-officer in the armed forces get up in the middle of the night and decapitate his wife and shot his kids while they slept and then fixing the blankets like if the kids were cold and needed to be comfortable when they were dead shot in the the or necks.
 {Essi Viding from University College London: }                                  

Luka Magnotta
 Luka Manotta(into eating people)
Brain scans can be used to identify children who may be potential psychopaths, new research has shown.
Scientists have found that certain areas of a psychopath's brain showed a reduced activity in response to images of others in pain.
The regions affected are those known to play a role in empathy, the ability to relate to other people's feelings.
Scientists say the patterns could act as a marker to single out children at a risk of becoming adult psychopaths.
A total of 55 boys aged 10 to 16 were assessed in the study.
Of these, 37 met the criteria for children with 'conduct problems' (CP) according to questionnaire answers provided by parents and teachers.
CP children display a plethora of antisocial traits including aggression and dishonesty. 
Like the central character in Lionel Shriver's novel We Need to Talk About Kevin, they can be callous and cruel.
Youngsters with conduct problems are not likely to follow in Kevin's footsteps and commit a school massacre, but the research findings suggest at least some could grow up to be psychopaths.
'Our findings indicate that children with conduct problems have an atypical brain response to seeing other people in pain,' psychologist Professor Essi Viding from University College London said. 
'It is important to view these findings as an indicator of early vulnerability, rather than biological destiny.
ldren can be very responsive to interventions, and the challenge is to make those interventions even better, so that we can really help the children, their families, and their wider social environment.'
About five per cent of children qualify for a diagnosis of CP, but little is known about the condition's underlying cause.
Participants in the study underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans while being shown images of other people's hands and feet in painful 
A distinct difference was seen in the brain responses of children with and without CP.
In children with conduct problems, brain activity in three key regions was reduced when looking at the pictures. They were the bilateral anterior insula, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the inferior frontal gyrus.
All are regions associated in previous studies with feelings of empathy for others in pain.
The scientists wrote in the journal Current Biology: 'We show that callous traits in particular may underlie atypical neural responses to others' pain in CP, which may represent an early neurobiological marker for later psychopathy.
'It remains an empirical question whether empathic responding can be normalised in children with CP.'
Not all children with conduct problems displayed a vulnerability to psychopathy, the researchers stressed.
'This raises the possibility of tailoring existing interventions to suit the specific profile of atypical processing that characterises a child with conduct problems,' Prof Viding said.

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