Mental Health

Part 2—Find Our Purpose After 50

            “But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.” Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul

            In Part 1 I talked about what success meant to me in my younger years. Too many successful men (and women) try to find their purpose in the second half of life by doing the things that made them successful in the first half. As the famous psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, reminds us that doesn’t work. 

            In his book, From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life, social scientist Arthur C. Brooks, offers us all guidance for creating the successful life we long for in the second half. Brooks offers a disturbing assessment of the situation that many men I work with find themselves confronting:

            “In the first half of life, ambitious strivers embrace a simple formula for success in work and life: focus single-mindedly, work tirelessly, sacrifice personally, and climb the ladder recklessly.

            “It works. Until it doesn’t.”

            “It turns out the second half of life is governed by different rules. In middle age, many strivers begin to find success coming harder and harder, rewards less satisfying, and family relationships withering. In response, they do what strivers always do: they double down on work in an attempt to outrun decline and weakness, and deny the changes that are becoming more and more obvious. The result is often anger, fear, and disappointment at a time in life that they imagined would be full of joy, fulfillment, and pride.”

            The problem for many is that we love what we do. We’ve worked hard to be good at it and society rewards us with money, power, and prestige. We tell ourselves we’re doing it all for our family, but in our heart of hearts we know that our spouses are missing out on the passion we reserve for our work and our children don’t really know us fully.

            We tell ourselves we are going to slow down, take more time for family and friends, pay more attention to our own physical, emotional, and relational health. But we don’t, not really. If we’re truthful with ourselves we realize we’ve become addicted to work. She has become a mistress we know we must leave but are forever lured back to her forbidden embrace.

            As I shared in part 1, it took a medical emergency before I was able to break free. For others, it is a divorce, getting fired, or some other failure that gets their attention. Many keep on going, afraid to let go, even as their lives become less joyful and more stressful.

Guidance For Success in the Second Half

            In the first half of life, success comes from focusing more on ourselves. In the second half, our focus shifts to helping others.  To illustrate, David Brooks quotes first-century BC Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero.

“The old,” said Cicero, “should endeavor by means of their counsel and practical wisdom to be of as much service as possible to their friends and to the young.”

            Brooks goes on to say that we must address our addiction to our old way of being. We don’t have to admit ourselves to an inpatient treatment center.

“It does require an open admission of the truth, however, and a commitment to change: that what you have is a problem and you want to solve it,” says Brooks, “that what you have been doing isn’t working and that you want to be happy.”

            Having worked with my own addictions over the years and helping others, this is the first step in all recovery programs. The first step in Alcoholics Anonymous’s program is

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Brooks, himself, is no stranger to work addiction. Based on a prayer he had heard, “Litany of Humility,” he composed his own:

            From putting my career before people in my life, deliver me.

            From distracting myself from life with work, deliver me.

            From my drive to be superior to others, deliver me.

            From the allure of the world’s empty promises, deliver me.

            From my feelings of professional superiority, deliver me.

            From allowing my pride to supplant my love, deliver me.

            From the pains of withdrawing from my addiction, deliver me.

            From the dread of falling into decline and being forgotten, deliver me.

            Another person whose wisdom has been helpful to me is brain scientist, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. I have written about her work in a number of articles, “Four Play: How Your Core Brain Characters Drive Your Love Life” and “The 5 Stages of Love and the 4 Brain Characters That Determine Whether Your Marriage Will Succeed or Fail.”

            What I found most helpful about her work is understanding how the two hemispheres of the brain work and how the differences relate to success in the first vs the second half of life. In her book Whole Brain Living: The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters That Drive Our Life, she contrasts the functions of left and right hemispheres.

“Underlying the functional differences between our two hemispheres are neurons that process information in unique ways,”

says Taylor.

“Our left brain has the ability to think sequentially. Our left hemisphere is an amazing serial processor. Our right hemisphere functions like a parallel processor, bringing in multiple streams of data.”

            Dr. Taylor describes the work of Harvard psychiatrist Fredric Schiffer, M.D. who has written a book, Of Two Minds: The Revolutionary Science of Dual-Brain Psychology, who found that the two hemispheres are so different that each may actually manifest unique aches and pains that the other does not acknowledge or exhibit.

            Not only does modern neuroscience show that humans have “two minds,” but Dr. Taylor describes four different characters contained in the human brain and that understanding and integrating these four characters can help us understand ourselves in both periods of our lives– the morning as well as the afternoon, the first half of life and the second.

            Dr. Taylor also refers to the work of another colleague, Iain McGilchrist, M.D., a psychiatrist and fellow neuroscience researcher. In his book, The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, he offers evidence that the right and left hemispheres actually amount to two brains. The right and left brains perform the same basic functions, but in very different ways.

            “The two hemispheres have styles — takes, if you like, on the world. They see things differently. They prioritize different things. They have different values,”

says Dr. McGilchrist.

“The left hemisphere’s goal is to enable us to manipulate things, whereas the goal of the right hemisphere is to relate to things and understand them as a whole. Two ways of thinking that are both needed, but are fundamentally at the same time incompatible.”

            In the first half of life, we tend to operate more from the left hemisphere of the brain. But, in the second half we are called upon to develop the qualities of the right hemisphere. Failure to do so leaves us feeling unfulfilled and unhappy.

But McGilchrist goes even further in suggesting that all of Western Civilization has become overly driven by left-brain ways of seeing the world.

“A way of thinking which is reductive, mechanistic has taken us over,”

says McGilchrist.  

“We behave like people who have right hemisphere damage”.

He goes on to say that this way of thinking and behavior,

“treats the world as a simple resource to be exploited. It’s made us enormously powerful. It’s enabled us to become wealthy, but it’s also meant that we’ve lost the means to understand the world, to make sense of it, to feel satisfaction and fulfilment through our place in the world.”

McGilchrist quotes Albert Einstein who said,

“The rational mind is a faithful servant, but the intuitive mind is a precious gift, and we live in a world that has honored the servant but has forgotten the gift.”

The unexpected “gift” of seeing clearly the power and importance of the right-brain way of seeing came to Jill Bolte Taylor on the morning of December 10, 1996, at the age of 37. In her book, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, and her TED talk now seen by thirty-million people, she describes what happened:

I woke up to a pounding pain behind my left eye. As it turned out, I was born with a congenital neurological brain disorder I didn’t know was there until it became a problem. An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) exploded in the left hemisphere of my brain, and over the course of four hours I watched my brain functions shut down one by one. On the afternoon of the stroke I could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of my life. In effect, I had become an infant in a woman’s body.

As a neuroscientist she was uniquely qualified to be able to both understand what was going on, to be able to value the opportunity of experiencing the right hemisphere of her brain without interference from the left hemisphere, but also conscious enough to know what to do to safe her life.

As you might imagine, it was fascinating for me to watch my brain systematically break down, through the eyes of a neuroscientist. The damage to the left hemisphere of my train was so traumatic that I predictably lost the ability to speak and understand language. In addition, the chattering “monkey mind” of the left brain went silent. With that internal dialogue circuitry shut off, I sat in the center of a completely silent brain for five full weeks. I even lost that little voice of my left-brain ego-self that could say, “I am an individual, separate from the whole. I am Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor.” In the absence of my chatty and linear-thinking left brain, I stepped into the awe-inspiring experiential sensations of the present moment and it was beautiful there.

More than a near-death experience, Dr. Taylor offers us a once in a lifetime glimpse into who we are at all stages of our lives and what we can learn that can guide our journey from the time we are born until we die.

“In the big picture, Whole Brain Living, is about our shared journey into the challenges of our lives and what our choices are in how we can live our best life while taking our brain anatomy into account.”

If you would like more information about Jill and her work, I suggest you visit her website, If you’d like to read my articles about her work you can do so here:  “Four Play: How Your Core Brain Characters Drive Your Love Life” and “The 5 Stages of Love and the 4 Brain Characters That Determine Whether Your Marriage Will Succeed or Fail.”

I invite you to subscribe to my free weekly newsletter where you’ll learn about my latest articles and upcoming events.

The post Success Addicted Men: Why Money, Power, and Prestige Are Dead-End Goals in the Second Half of Life appeared first on MenAlive.

Part 1

            When I was five years old my mid-life father took an overdose of sleeping pills because he felt he was a failure as a husband, a father, and a man. When he was in his 20s he had achieved career success at the highest level as a member of one of the most prestigious acting companies in New York. He had moved our family to California with the hopes of getting into the burgeoning television and movie industries, but he never achieved the level of success at midlife that he had reached earlier in his life. He became increasingly frustrated and depressed and at age 43 he took an overdose of sleeping pills. Though he didn’t die and was committed to a state mental hospital, our lives were never the same. His failure to build new strengths nearly killed him.

            I grew up wondering what happened to my father and what I could do to keep it from happening to me. I chose a different field than his. I became a very successful psychotherapist and author. It took me longer to reach the top in my career, but by the time I was in my mid-forties, I had written a best-selling book, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions, was making more money than I ever expected to make, was widely respected as a healer, and had made a T.V. special about my book, Male Menopause.

            Then it all began to fall apart. At first I had more difficulty getting my next book accepted by major publishers. My agent was encouraging, but I was working harder and header, but not getting the results I expected. I was also becoming more irritable, angry, and depressed. My emotional volatility was impacting my marriage, but I denied anything was wrong.

            As I had done in the past, I wrote a book about what I was going through, The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression. I did find a publisher, but it wasn’t one of the majors and I became even more depressed and angry.

            I was doing my usual multi-tasking by taking my car in for servicing and then running the 5 miles back home to get exercise mileage in before seeing my afternoon clients. All of a sudden, it felt like my head was about to explode. The pain was so intense, it knocked me to the ground. By the time I got home, the pain had subsided and I got back to work. After it happened again a few days later, my wife insisted I see my doctor.

            I was diagnosed with a rare adrenal tumor, a pheochromocytoma, and needed immediate surgery. I survived, but the wakeup call convinced me that I needed to change my lifestyle. My wife and I decided to move out of the big city, bought a small house in the hills of Mendocino County. I slowed down, re-evaluated my life, and began to learn more about what was going on with my life and my lifestyle.

The Hypomanic Edge and Drive for Success

            I found a book, The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success in America by Dr. John D. Gartner, a psychologist and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University Medical School. He began by studying successful entrepreneurs in the tech boom of the 1990s to see if “a little bit of craziness” was related to “a lot of success” achieving the American dream. As part of his research, he gave them a list of hypomanic (i.e. a milder form of mania) traits including the following:

  • He is filled with energy.
  • He is flooded with ideas.
  • He is driven, restless, and unable to keep still.
  • He channels his energy into the achievement of wildly grand ambitions.
  • He often works on little sleep.
  • He feels brilliant, special, chosen, perhaps even destined to change the world.
  • He becomes easily irritated by minor obstacles.
  • He is a risk taker.

These were certainly traits that fit me and many successful men I knew and counseled.

“Once hypomanics lock their sights on a goal, it’s sort of like Michael Jordan driving to the hoop,”

Gartner says.

“They might fail, but they’re determined to go through any barrier. They’re impelled to throw the full force of their energy and drive toward a goal. That’s why people who accomplish great things are disproportionately coming from this mindset.”

For Dr. Gartner, his research was personal as well as professional. He recounts his own experiences in an article reviewing his book by writer Jim Duffy who noted that Gartner grew up in Manhattan in a family touched by bipolar disorder. He quoted Gartner saying,

“From a young age, I noticed I was different, but I had no way of understanding it or explaining it.”

Gartner was expelled from the seventh grade. He didn’t cheat or fight or smoke pot in the bathroom. In fact, he says, he was one of the two smartest kids in his class.

“They kicked me out just for being a wise ass,”

says Gartner,

“for dominating the class and making jokes and challenging the teacher. They couldn’t contain me. And frankly, I got fired from my first faculty job for behaviors not all that different.”

He had always wanted to go to Harvard and achieve his dreams of success. But his dream of going to Harvard seemed dashed when he scored a modest 1040 on his SATs. The accepted wisdom back then was that since the test measured aptitude, studying was pointless.

In true hypomanic fashion, Gartner rejected the accepted wisdom. He transformed his room into an Olympic-caliber aptitude training camp, full of vocabulary books and math review manuals and essay books. He took a full two-hour practice test every weeknight for four months. He crammed four more practice tests into every weekend. He studied so voraciously that he had every one of 5,000 new vocabulary words down cold.

The second time around, his SAT score jumped by 400 points, enough to get him wait-listed at Harvard. He went on to become hugely successful in his field. Says Gartner,

“I’m hypomanic, and I like hypomanics. I think that overall, this is an advantageous trait to have as a country.”

Yet, many of us find that what counts as success in the first half of life is different from success kind of success is needed in the second half. For many, our hypomanic edge can turn into a harmful addiction if we don’t shift gears.

Workaholism and  Addiction to Success

            The term workaholism was coined by the psychologist Wayne Oates in the 1960s after his son asked for an appointment at Oates’s office to see him, so scarce was his father’s time. Oates defined workaholism in 1971 as “the compulsion or the uncontrollable need to work incessantly.”

            Many of us only begin to recognize our addiction in midlife when we begin to recognize  that we neglected our family life as we climbed the latter of success, yet we have a difficult time slowing down and reducing our preoccupation with work success.

            In his book, From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness and Deep Purpose in The Second Half of Life, social scientist Arthur C. Brooks, Professor of Public Leadership at the Harvard Business School, says that workaholism and addiction to success are endemic to professionally successful people. Prior to his mid-life shift in career from business to academia, he served as president of the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington, DC.

“I doubt I ever worked less than a sixty-hour week the entire decade that I was a chief executive. Many leaders work much more than this, leaving little time to cultivate outside relationships.”

I found that it was only after I broke free of my own addiction to success that I could see the truth of my situation. That was what Brooks found to be the case.

“Leaders who work crushing hours often tell me they have no choice if they want to do their jobs adequately well. But I don’t buy it. When I dig a little—in my life and the lives of others—I usually find that workaholics are caught in a vicious cycle: They become successful by working more than others—and thus more than ‘necessary’—but believe they have to keep up the pace to maintain their astronomical productivity. The rewards of that productivity give way to a fear of falling behind as an impetus to keep running.”

Here are some questions that Brooks found helpful in recognizing whether you are slipping into workaholism and success addiction:

  • Do you fail to reserve part of your energy for your loved ones after work and stop working only when you are forced to do so?
  • Do you sneak around to work? For example, when your spouse leaves the house on a Sunday, do you immediately turn to work and then put it away before she or he returns so that it is not apparent what you were doing?
  • Does it make you anxious and unhappy when someone—such as your spouse—suggests you take time away from work for activities with loved ones, even when nothing in your work is unusually pressing? (By the way, I’m feeling a bit angry and defensive as I write this).

“What workaholics truly crave isn’t work per se; It is success,”

says Brooks.

“They kill themselves working for money, power, and prestige because these are forms of approval, applause, and compliments—which, like all addictive things from cocaine to social media, stimulate the neurotransmitter dopamine.”

In my own life, and in the lives of most success addicts I have counseled, I was attempting to fill an inner void that was linked to experiences in my family of origin. Part of the unwillingness to recognize and deal with my addiction was my fear of addressing the truth about my childhood. Mid-life is the time for healing old wounds and looking anew at what success means in the second half of life.

One of the most common wounds for success addicts is related to our fathers. Although I had written many books that addressed issues from my past, it wasn’t until I wrote my 14th book, My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound, that I finally addressed these issues. I offered the following three quotes that captured, for me, the essence of the father wound.

“A father may be physically present, but absent in spirit. His absence may be literal through death, divorce, or dysfunction, but more often it is a symbolic absence through silence and the inability to transmit what he also may not have acquired.” –James Hollis

“Kids have a hole in their soul in the shape of their dad. And if a father is unwilling or unable to fill that role, it can leave a wound that is not easily healed.”  –Roland Warren

“You will begin to forgive the world when you forgive your father.”           –Tennessee Williams’ psychiatrist.

In part 2, I will discuss how we can find our true purpose that can guide us through the second half of our lives. I invite you to read my free weekly articles here.

The post Success Addicted Men: Why Money, Power, and Prestige Are Dead-End Goals in the Second Half of Life appeared first on MenAlive.

When I finished reading Daniel Quinn’s 1992 novel Ishmael, I did something I’d never done in my life and have never done since. I found out where the author lived, bought an airplane ticket, and knocked on his door to tell him that his book had changed my life. Ishmael, which received the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship for the best work of fiction offering positive solutions to global problems, began with these simple words:

Teacher Seeks Pupil.
Must have an earnest desire to save the world.
Apply in person.

When I arrived unexpectedly at his home in Austin, Texas, I was answering the call. We spent the day together and I met his wife, Rennie. Over the years we became friends. When I wrote the book, The Warrior’s Journey Home: Healing Men, Healing the Planet, he offered these words.

“Jed Diamond’s homeward journey of awakening has taken him far into the mystery of being male and human—dangerous territory in an age when being male and human is practically a crime.”

 Quinn wrote many other books building on the themes he explored in Ishmael. In Beyond Civilization: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure, he begins with this fable.

            “Once upon a time life evolved on a certain planet, bringing forth many different social organizations—packs, pods, flocks, troops, herds, and so on. One species whose members were unusually intelligent developed a unique social organization called a tribe: Tribalism worked well for them for millions of years, but there came a time when they decided to experiment with a new social organization (called civilization) that was hierarchal rather than tribal.

            Before long, those at the top of the hierarchy were living in great luxury, enjoying perfect leisure and having the best of everything. A larger class of people below them lived very well and had nothing to complain about. But the masses living at the bottom of the hierarchy didn’t like it at all. They worked and lived like pack animals, struggling just to stay alive. ‘This isn’t working,’ the masses said. ‘The tribal way was better. We should return to that way.’

            But the ruler of the hierarchy told them, ‘We’ve put that primitive life behind us forever. We can’t go back to it.’

            ‘If we can’t go back,’ the masses said, ‘then let’s go forward—on to something different.’

            ‘That can’t be done,’ the ruler said, ‘because nothing different is possible. Nothing can be beyond civilization. Civilization is a final, unsurpassable invention.’”

The Ship of Civilization is Sinking: My Own Introduction to TEOTWAWKI

            I first encountered TEOTWAWKI, The End of the World as We Know It, in an unlikely place. In 1993, I was attending a men’s leadership conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. As part of the experience we were invited to participate in a traditional Native American sweat lodge ceremony. During the last round of the ceremony, the heat was so intense that many in the small sweat lodge crawled out. Though I was seated at the back, the very hottest part of the sweat lodge, I didn’t feel the heat, but was transported to a vision where I witnessed the sinking of the Ship of Civilization.

            After the ceremonial sweat had ended I wrote down my experience, though it was nearly impossible to put into words. Here is an excerpt I share in my forthcoming book, Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity.

We are all on a huge ocean liner. It is the Ship of Civilization. Everything that we know and have ever known is on the Ship. People are born and die. Goods and services are created, wars are fought, and elections are held. Species come into being and face extinction. The Ship steams on and on and there is no doubt that it will continue on its present course forever.

There are many decks on the ship starting way down in the boiler room where the poorest and grimiest toil to keep the Ship going. As you ascend the decks, things get lighter and easier. The people who run the Ship have suites on the very top deck. Their job, as they see it, is to keep the Ship going and keep those on the lower decks in their proper places. Since they are at the top they are sure that they deserve to have the best that the Ship has to offer.
Everyone on the lower decks aspires to get up to the next deck and hunger to get to the very top. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it has always been. That’s the way it will always be. 
However, there are a few people who realize that something very strange is happening.
What they come to know is that the Ship of Civilization is sinking. At first, like everyone else, they can’t believe it. The Ship has been afloat since time before time. It is the best of the best. That it could sink is unthinkable. 
Nonetheless, they are sure the Ship is sinking. They try and warn the people, but few believe them. The Ship cannot be sinking and anyone who thinks so must be out of their mind. When they persist in trying to warn the people of what they are facing, those in charge of the Ship silence them and lock them up. The Ship’s media keep grinding out news stories describing how wonderful the future will be and technology will solve all our problems.
But as the water rises, those who have been issuing the warnings can no longer be silenced. More and more escape confinement and lead the people towards the lifeboats. Though there are boats enough for all, most people refuse to leave the Ship of Civilization. “Things may look bad now, but surely they will get better soon,” they say to each other.
Those who do leave get into their individual lifeboats and row away from the Ship, each in their own direction. But they stay connected with the other boats and eventually create a different kind of world than the one they left. They are guided to a new future, based on old ways of partnership based on our two-million-year history of indigenous wisdom. They continue their fight to keep the old ways alive while the Ship of Civilization continues to be reclaimed by the vast ocean.

Overcoming Our Addiction to Civilization

            In an article, “Transformations: The End of the U.S. and the World as We Know It and The Truth About Our Collective Future,” I said,

“What we call ‘Civilization’ is a misnomer. Its proper name is the ‘Dominator culture.’ As long as we believe the myth that civilization is the best humans can aspire to achieve, we are doomed to go down with the Ship.”

In The Chalice & the Blade: Our History Our Future first published in 1987 and her most recent book, Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Future, written with anthropologist, Douglas P. Fry, internationally acclaimed scholar and futurist, Riane Eisler first introduced us to the original Partnership System and the more recent Dominator System.

Historian of religions, Thomas Berry, spoke eloquently about our present predicament.

“We never knew enough. Nor were we sufficiently intimate with all our cousins in the great family of the earth. Nor could we listen to the various creatures of the earth, each telling their own story. The time has now come, however, when we will listen or we will die.”

William R. Catton, Jr., whose book, Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, was praised by indigenous writer and advocate, Vine Deloria, Jr. as “one of the most important books I have read in my lifetime.” When the book was published in 1980 Catton courageously described the reality of our present situation, saying,

“In a future that is as unavoidable as it will be unwelcome, survival and sanity may depend upon our ability to cherish rather than to disparage the concept of human dignity.”

Free At Last: Joining the Recovery Movement and Accepting Hardship as the Pathway to Peace

            I met social activist, Chellis Glendinning, at an addiction recovery conference in 1993 where we were both speaking. She began her talk saying,

“My name is Chellis. I’m in recovery from western civilization.”

She got a laugh, but she was dead serious. Later she wrote the book, My Name is Chellis & I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization. In the Preface she says,

“I repeat what I said every time I speak at a recovery conference, psychological seminar, or political gathering about what is fast becoming the screaming link between pervasive personal dysfunction and the ecological crisis.”

            Another social activist friend is Michael Dowd. I met him following the publication of his book, Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will  Transform Your Life and Our World. In a recent talk, “Serenity Prayer for the 21st Century: Love in Action” he begins by sharing the Serenity Prayer that is offered at most 12-Step recovery meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous and was originally penned by Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Dowd goes on to add the line from the original prayer that most people have never heard.

“Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.”

            Like William Catton, Jr., Daniel Quinn, Riane Eisler, Thomas Berry, and many others, Michael Dowd offers a vision for a better future. He sees the Serenity Prayer, as path to the future with three guiding principles:

  • Acceptance

Trusting the realities of our present situation that we do not like or want. This includes accepting the inevitable pain, suffering, and loss of life as the Ship of Civilization sinks. It also includes accepting the feelings of fear, denial, and grief that accompany that reality.

  • Courage

When we accept the things that cannot change, we also move towards the serenity that is the foundation for acting with courage to address the things that we can do to assist those who suffer.

“It allows us to take bold action in support of all that is regenerative, redemptive, life-giving, pro-nature, community building,”

says Dowd. And we take action to resist whatever is anti-future, anti-nature, anti-community.

  • Wisdom

Wisdom involves accepting ourselves, our world, our lives, and the beautiful world that still exists, as we grieve what has been lost. We do what we can to live every day with loving kindness. Elizabeth Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying, reminds us that “Each of us are like snowflakes, absolutely beautiful and unique, and here for a very short time.”

For those who are ready to accept hardship as a pathway to peace, you are not alone. Another friend and colleague, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, wrote an essay, “We Were Meant for These Times.”  She says, in part,

“My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary, people.”

She goes on to say,

“You are right in your assessments. The bluster and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times.”

When I become discouraged or forget the positive aspects of my vision that included the lifeboats, I remember these hopeful words from Clarissa.

“I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.”          

If you appreciate this article and would like to read more, please visit me at I write articles on health and wellbeing of individuals, couples, and communities. You can get our free newsletter and read more here.

The post Free At Last: Overcoming Our Addiction to the Sinking Ship of Civilization appeared first on MenAlive.

According to world-renowned marriage expert, Dr. John Gottman,

“What men do in relationships is, by a large margin, the crucial factor that separates a great relationship from a failed one.”

Yet most relationship advice has been written by and for women. I have been a marriage and family therapist for more than fifty years and early in my career I made the same mistake of neglecting men and focusing on women. I will also admit that I went through two marriages and divorces before I decided to learn what it took to have a great marriage.

For us, the third time really was the charm. My wife, Carlin, and I have been married now for 43 wonderful years and I’d like to share some of the important things we have learned along the way:

  • Join a Men’s Group

After I finished my 15th book, The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come, I thought it would be my last book. But Carlin challenged me to write another one.

“With all the conflict between men and women, you need to write a book that guides men to be the best they can be and give them the secrets of how to have a great relationship that lasts.”

I took her advice (she’s a very intelligent woman and I’ve learned to listen when she speaks) and wrote 12 Rules for Good Men. Here’s what I said about Rule #1: Join a Men’s Group.

“Looking back on our heritage as men and our lives as hunter-gatherers over the last two million years, one of the things that stands out to me is that men spent considerable time in small groups with other men.”

We can’t learn about what it means to be a man, what it means to be a good man, or how to have a meaningful relationship that lasts without knowing ourselves deeply. And we can’t do that unless we are in a men’s group. Carlin will tell you that one of the reasons we have had a successful 43-year marriage is because I have been in a men’s group for 44 years.

  • Get some Man Therapy

Like me, many men grew up believing we should be strong, independent, and work out problems on our own. Psychotherapy was seen as something women might need, but real men figured things out themselves. Fortunately, I sought out help and found a good therapist. But men’s resistance to therapy isn’t just about guys being stubborn and bull-headed. Too often, therapy is practiced in a way that is more conducive to what works for women, not men.

Man Therapy® was created by a multidisciplinary team of mental health experts, marketing strategists, and suicide-prevention experts to make mental health approachable by using humor to break stigma and help men take action with tools and resources. The best part about it? It works. The results from a 4-year, $1.2 million study, funded by the CDC, show that Man Therapy® not only helps reduce depression, suicide risk, and poor mental health days, it also improves help-seeking behavior in working-aged men.

I met Joe Conrad and his team that created Man Therapy three years ago and have been impressed with their ability to create an innovative, engaging, and helpful way for men and their families to get help. They focus on men’s mental, emotional, and relational health and more than 375,000 men have taken their “head inspection.” Check it out here.

  • Talk to a woman who specializes in helping men with their relationships.

If you want to improve your relationships with women, and every man regardless of his sexual orientation, should do so, it helps to talk to an experienced woman.  Shana James is an expert counselor and coach who specializes in working with men. She is the author of Honest Sex: A Passionate Path to Deepen Connection and Keep Relationships Alive.

My friend and colleague, Ed Frauenheim, co-author of Reinventing Masculinity: The Liberating Power of Compassion and Connection, says,

“Shana James is a blend of the Dalai Lama and Dr. Ruth.”

When you spend time with Shana you will understand that Ed was perceptive and accurate in his assessment.

Her TEDX talk, “What a 1000 Men’s Tears Reveal About the Crisis Between Men and Women,” has been viewed by men and women throughout the world. I’ve worked with Shana over the years and she offers a unique and valuable perspective on how to improve our relationships.

Although Shana works with men of all ages, she has a unique set of skills and experience that help her work effectively with mid-life men.

“While dating and relationships are never easy, after 40 there are more physical and emotional challenges,”

says Shana.

“It is also, however, the best time of life to create deeper connections, more supportive dynamics, and a satisfying sex-life (that doesn’t have to fade as you age).”

 Men, check out her new online Masterclass specifically for you guys who have already done some loving and living. It’s called 3 Skills That Create the Best Love and Sex of Your Life After 40. You can learn about it here:  And you can’t beat the price. It’s free!

  • Learn why disillusionment is the key to real lasting love.

In my book, The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come, I describe the following stages:

  1. Falling in Love.
  2. Building a Life Together.
  3. Disillusionment.
  4. Real Lasting Love.
  5. Find Your Calling as a Couple.

Like many people, I thought there were only two stages for having a great relationship. First, the magic moment where we meet that special someone and fall in love. Second, we become a couple and live happily ever after. However, like many whose marriage hit the rocks and disillusionment overcame us, I got divorced, became depressed, decided I had chosen the wrong partner, and eventually healed the wounds and tried again.

Unfortunately, like many, I didn’t yet understand the five stages of love and my second marriage also ended in divorce. But, I finally got wise, I mean wise in truly understanding the hidden truths about sex, love, relationships, and marriage. My wife, Carlin, and I have now been married for forty-three years and the key is understanding the real purpose of Disillusionment.

The evolutionary purpose of falling in love is to bond two people together so they will mate, have sex, and produce children that grow up to have children of their own. It isn’t to make us happy, fulfill our lives, or help us to develop a lasting intimate relationship with a partner. In fact, all of us project our illusions of love on to our partners. When they don’t live up to our projected expectations we feel we have been cheated. We become disillusioned, and often leave the relationship.

But the real purpose of stage 3 is for us to go deeper, to let go of our illusions, and heal our wounds from the past, so that we can love the real person and be loved in return. If we have the courage to stay with it, we go on to find real lasting love and learn to create a calling as a couple.

  • Find the one thing all women look for in a man and learn to develop it in your life.

John Gottman, PhD, is the guy who is known for being able to predict with 94 percent accuracy whether a couple will get divorced. John has also had a successful, long-term marriage with his wife Julie Schwartz Gottman, PhD. What many people do not know is that in addition to being the world’s leading marriage researcher, he has distinguished himself by being in many disastrous relationships with women before he met Julie.

As he says in his book, The Man’s Guide to Women: Scientifically Proven Secrets from the “Love Lab” About What Women Really Want, written with Julie and two other colleagues, he says,

“My history with women is mostly a field littered with the corpses of failed relationships.”

Like John, I haven’t always had a successful love life. If you visit me at MenAlive, I will greet you with my welcome video, “Confessions of a Twice-Divorced Marriage Counselor.”

I highly recommend The Man’s Guide To Women to everyone regardless of whether you are male or female or how you identify. You will learn a great deal including “The One Thing All Women Look For in a Man.”

“What is the one number one thing that women are looking for in a man?” asks Dr. Gottman. “Is it six-pack abs, a six-figure bank account, or someone who is handsome?”

“No, no, and no,” he says. “The number one thing women look for is simply this: trustworthiness. That’s right trustworthiness.”

This may seem obvious, and most guys will say, “Of course, I’m trustworthy.” But it isn’t that simple.

“What trustworthiness looks like in dating and mating,” says Dr. Gottman, “is this: You are who you say you are and you do what you say you are going to do. It’s about reliability, accountability, and showing up just as you are.”

Being trustworthy is not a decision we make and forget about. It is a life-long journey, a hero’s journey really, to continue to work on ourselves throughout our lives. And here’s the bottom line. We can’t do it alone. That’s why we need to be in a men’s group, get some man therapy, talk to a woman who specializes in helping men with their relationships, and have the courage to go through disillusionment to find real lasting love.

I look forward to accompanying you on the journey. Come visit me at MenAlive. If you’d like to receive my free weekly newsletter with announcements of upcoming events and my latest articles, you can do so here.

The post Why Men Are the Key to Relationship Success or Failure: What Every Man and Woman Needs to Know appeared first on MenAlive.

If we’re honest, most adults know we are leaving a world for our children and grandchildren that is much less wonderful than the world we grew up in. Turning 80 this year, I think about what wisdom I might offer them.

I am a rational scientist by training with a PhD in International Health. So I had a difficult time believing the vision I was given in the summer of 1993 during a traditional Native-American sweat lodge ceremony that was held during a Men’s Leadership Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. I have written about the vision and what I have learned in a number of articles, mostly recently in April, 2023, “Transformations: The End of the U.S. and the World as We Know It and The Truth About Our Collective Future,” Part 1 and Part 2.

            What I was given in the vision was nothing less than seeing the sinking of “The Ship of Civilization” with most people going down with the ship and also I saw the “Lifeboats to the Future” captained by many individuals who recognized the reality of the sinking ship and had the courage to connect with others and launch themselves into unknown waters to create a new, more sustainable, way of life for humanity.

            My wife, Carlin, and I have lived a good life during a period that William R. Catton, Jr., author of Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, calls the “Age of Exuberance” when it seemed, mistakenly, that we need not worry about limits to growth and human ingenuity would solve all our problems.

            In Catton’s book, one of the most important books I have read that explains our present situation and what we need to do now and in the future, he describes two paradigms. The first, he says,

“is embedded in Western thoughtways by 400 years of exuberance that made the following assumptions plausible and popular:

P1. People are masters of their own destiny; they are essentially different from all other creatures, over which they have dominion.  

P2. People can learn to do anything.

P3. People can always change when they have to.

P4. People can always improve things; the history of mankind is a history of progress; for

       every problem there is a solution, and progress need never cease.”

Catton wrote Overshoot in 1980. Even more than forty years ago, he recognized that over the previous four hundred years, culminating with the discovery of long-buried plant matter that could be turned into fossil fuels, humans had exceeded the carrying capacity of our planet and were headed for a crash. He didn’t blame anyone. He understood that people with the best of intentions, set us on a path of pain and collapse that no one had anticipated because we didn’t understand the ecological paradigm that humans had followed for the previous two-million years of our ancestral history.

“The ecological paradigm,” says Catton, “clearly recognizes the following basic ideas:

E1. Human beings are just one species among many species that are interdependently involved in biotic communities.

E2. Human social life is shaped by intricate linkages of cause and effect (and feedback) in the web of nature, and because of these, purposive human actions have many unintended consequences.

E3. The world we live in is finite, so there are potent physical and biological limits constraining economic growth, social progress, and other aspects of human living.

E4. However much the inventiveness of Home sapiens or the power of Homo colossus may seem for a while to transcend carrying capacity limits, nature has the last word.”

You can watch a wonderful interview with Dr. Catton recorded in 2008, seven years before his death at age 89. 

For My Children, Grandchildren, Great Grandchildren, and Future Generations

            I used to feel guilty and ashamed that I couldn’t do more to bring about a healthier and safer world for future generations who I know will live in a world that will be much more challenging than the one I was blessed to live in. But after reading William Catton’s analysis, I now realize that we all did the best we could, given what we knew.

            Whether we do it now or sometime in the future, we need to live within the paradigm that is based on the ecological facts of life. I hope you will learn these ideas and put them into practice now, and forever. They have been, and will always be, part of the owner’s manual for human life on planet Earth.

            So, while I’m still here in physical form, I have a few things to say to my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren: Jemal, Angela, Aaron, Dane, Evan, Antonia, Shelby, Jacob, Cody, Sierra, Hailey, Gunnar, Christian, Teanna, Deon, Derrick, Trey’Shawn, Matej, Natael, Nela, Jonovan, June, Flora, Naima, and those still to come.

  • You are loved.

As families get bigger and the world gets more complicated, we sometimes forget that we are part of long family lineage and on a day-to-day basis we may not be aware that we are seen, recognized, and loved, we all need to remember and remind ourselves of who we are. Traditional Native American practice had us recognize and express our love in the decisions we made seven generations into the future. I hope my love for you will inspire you to share your own love forward.

  • You are special and have gifts and a unique calling to share during your lifetime.

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said,

“You are not a powerless speck of dust drifting around in the wind. We are, each of us, like beautiful snowflakes-unique, and born for a specific reason and purpose.”

Throughout your life, if you are open to it, you will learn more about what you are called to contribute to the community of life during the time you have on Earth.

  • Be true to yourself.

When I was young, my mother, quoting Shakespeare, told me:

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

It is never easy to know ourselves and to be true to the self we have come to know. None of us exists separately from others and we are all influenced by parents, friends, and the media who have their own beliefs about what is best for us.

The comedian and actress Lilly Tomlin said,

“All my life I always wanted to be someone. I see now I should have been more specific.”

Indeed, there is no one who can be you and you can’t be anyone else, so keep going deeper to find and hold fast to your own authentic you.

  • We all live in challenging times and you must accept the challenges of the time in which you live.

I was born in 1943. I still have vivid memories of seeing news footage of the first atom bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in August, 1945. I grew up with the fear of bombs dropped on us and the guilt of knowing what we had done to others.

Each of you has come into the world at a certain time in human history and each will have to deal with both personal and social challenges of the times in which you live. There is no way to avoid your time and place, so you might as well get to know it, appreciate it, and have the courage to be your best self while you are here.

  • Recognize that every day, every moment, is a blessing.

In elementary school, we got extra credit if we memorized the “saying of the week” and were able to speak it outload when called upon. I still remember this one,

“Lost between the hours of sunrise and sunset, two golden minutes, each set with sixty diamond seconds. No reward is offered for they are gone forever.”

Even when I was young I felt that being alive was a great gift and I never took life for granted. As I get older, I am awed by the mystery of life and want to taste and experience all that has to offer me for as long as I’m here.  

  • Take care of yourself.

When we come into the world, we are dependent on others. Hopefully you have had good enough caregivers. Those of you who are parents or will become parents, know that you will always fall short of being the parents you hoped to be. None of us are perfect. We do the best we can.

There is wisdom in the instructions given on airplanes that if there is a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down. Be sure to place your own mask on first before trying to help others. Too often, we become so focused on helping others, we don’t take care of ourselves. Always be good to yourself. Take care of you, and when you forget, treat yourself like your most precious child.

  • Walk every day.

When I was growing up we walked everywhere and most everything that was important—the movie theater where we went every Saturday, the river where we caught crawdads in the summer, our friends’ houses—was within walking distance. Now most of us live in cities and most of what we need is not close to home.

Humans have walked for millions of years. Walking is still good for us. I believe it is nature’s always-available anti-depressant and stress reliever. It also connects us to the Earth. I still walk every day and I’m glad I formed the habit young. Wherever you live, find a way to walk.

  • Do something for someone else today.

There is a saying in my Jewish tradition:

“If I’m not for myself, who will be? If I am for myself only, what am I? If not now, when?”

I’ve found over the years that these are not really separate acts. One of the things that makes me feel best about myself, particularly when I feel depressed and unloved, is to do something nice for someone else. It doesn’t have to be something big—a caring smile, a hug, a flower—can make me feel good and help someone else at the same time.

It is easy to think, I will do it tomorrow, but if not now, when? We never know when it might be our last day.

  • Be kind.

When things become stressed in the world, and they certainly are now, and it’s likely to continue, there is a tendency to feel that others are being “mean” and are to blame for the many problems in our lives. We can react to harsh words, indifference, aggression, or violence, with more of the same. Or we can remind ourselves that others are hurting and the only way to reduce meanness in the world, is to add more kindness.

Dr. Gerald Jampolsky was a good friend of ours. He wrote the book, Love is Letting Go of Fear. He said,

“When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one. We cannot love when we feel fear…. When we release the fearful past and forgive everyone, we will experience total love and oneness with all.”

There is more I would like to share, but that’s all for today. I look forward to your responses. What might you add to this list? Come visit me at and if you are so moved join our Moonshot for Mankind.

The post How to Live Well in a Post-Collapse World: A Love Letter to My Children and Grandchildren appeared first on MenAlive.

Part 7 – The Men’s Health Revolution and the Moonshot for Mankind

            This is the final part of the series. You can check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4,  Part 5, and Part 6 if you missed any of the previous parts. In the final part of this series I will introduce you to a few healthcare heroes working at the cutting edge of men’s mental, emotional, and relational health. We’ve come a long way since 1949 when my uncle drove me to the mental hospital to visit my father who had become increasingly depressed because he couldn’t find work to support his family. In many ways support for men’s mental health has improved greatly over the years. Yet, we also face increased health challenges that make the times we are living in even more challenging.

            As Gabor Maté says in his powerful and prophetic book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture,

“I have come to believe that behind the entire epidemic of chronic afflictions, mental and physical, that beset our current moment, something is amiss in our culture itself, generating both the rash of ailments we are suffering and, crucially, the ideological blind spots that keep us from seeing our predicament clearly, the better to do something about it. These blind spots—prevalent throughout the culture but endemic to a tragic extend in my own profession—keep us ignorant of the connections that bind our health to our social-emotional lives.”

            I recently had the occasion to have new business cards printed. They have a picture of me and my wife, Carlin, beside the following words: Jed Diamond, Ph.D. Helping Men and the Women Who Love Them Since 1969. That’s a long time to be working, but I realized, too, that in many ways the year I really began working to help men and the women who love them was 1949.

Long Live Men: The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity

            After my 15th book, The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come, was published in 2016, I felt I had written my last book. My first book, Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man, was published in 1983 and fifteen books seemed like a significant body of work. I wanted to spend more time with friends and family and to teach, train, and mentor the next generation of healers who were coming into the field.

            My wife, who was always supportive of my work, but never suggested I write another book, offered me an unexpected challenge.

“I think you need to write at least one more book,”

Carlin told me. I was more than surprised, since writing a book takes me a few years and at this stage of our lives we both are cutting back on our work, not taking on more.

“With all that is going on in the world and the increasing conflicts between men and women, you need to write a book that brings people together.”

            The result was the book, 12 Rules for Good Men, which was lauded by colleagues including John Gray who said,

“I’ve known and appreciated Jed’s work for more than 40 years and he has been doing men’s work for more than fifty. This is a wonderfully helpful guide for both men and women.”

Unfortunately, the book came out just as Covid was hitting the world and I didn’t get a chance to do much promoting.

            I was able to invite a group of colleagues who were doing exceptionally good work in the field of men’s mental, emotional, and relational health to join me in what I called our Moonshot for Mankind. I wrote a book, Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity. The book will be released worldwide later this year. The final chapter includes a section written by each of the colleagues who are founding members of our Moonshot for Mankind.

The Moonshot for Mankind and Humanity

            I have come to believe that men are both the canaries in the coal mine alerting us to the dangers humanity faces as well as the hope for humanity. Here are some facts about men as a group compared to women:

  • Men die younger.
  • Men’s immune system is weaker.
  • Men are more likely to suffer from developmental disability.
  • Men die at higher rates from nine of the top ten causes of death.
  • Men are victims of over 92 percent of workplace deaths.
  • Men die from suicide at rates 3-10 times higher than women.
  • Men are simply weaker than women at every stage of life from birth to old age.

At MenAlive, I discuss our Moonshot for Mankind. At this stage of my career, spanning more than fifty years, I want to use the time I still have to make the most positive impact in the world. Nearly twenty years ago, my colleagues Randolph Nesse, MD and Daniel Kruger, PhD examined premature deaths among men in 20 countries. They found that in every country, men died sooner and lived sicker than women and their shortened health and lifespan harmed the men and their families.

They concluded with four powerful statements:

  • “Being male is now the single largest demographic factor for early death.”
  • “Over 375,000 lives would be saved in a single year in the U.S. alone if men’s risk of dying was as low as women’s.”
  • “If male mortality rates could be reduced to those for females, this would eliminate over one-third of all male deaths below age 50 and help men of all ages.”
  • “If you could make male mortality rates the same as female rates, you would do more good than curing cancer.”

We understand that there are biological and evolutionary differences between males and females as well as genetic and hormonal differences that favor female health and longevity. We also know that there is much that men, and the families who love them, can do to improve the lives of all males.

Two years ago I invited a number of colleagues who I knew were doing exceptionally good work to improve men’s mental, emotional, and relational health and wellbeing to join me to help create a Moonshot for Mankind. We launched our first programs online in July, 2023. Here is a short description of the other founding members:

Frederick Marx, is an internationally acclaimed, Oscar and Emmy nominated director/writer with 45 years in the film business. His film HOOP DREAMS (1994) is one of the highest grossing non-musical documentaries in United States history. He is also the author of numerous books including Rites to a Good Life: Everyday Rituals of Healing and Transformation and Turds of Wisdom: Irreverent Real-Life Stories From a Buddhist Rebel.

Lisa Hickey, is CEO of Good Men Media Inc. and publisher of the Good Men Project, an online multi-media, cross-platform content site and conversation asking the question “What does it mean to be a good man in the 21st century?” She has been invited to speak at corporations, colleges and universities, about a variety of topics, most recently Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She has performed at open mike comedy clubs and poetry slams. She is the author of three books and the mother of four children.

Joe Conrad, is the Founder and CEO at Grit Digital Health –– a team of specialists in behavioral health, wellness, technology and marketing committed to transcending barriers like stigma and access to help people get the support they need, when and how they need it. Joe and his team are the creators of Man Therapy, an innovative and award-winning campaign that uses humor to engage working-age men in an immersive, entertaining, digital experience where therapy actually happens.

Shana James, For 15 years Shana has coached more than a thousand leaders, CEOs, authors, speakers and people with big visions who step into more powerful leadership, start and grow businesses, create more effective teams, increase their impact, get promoted, find love, rekindle spark, create a legacy, and become more personally inspired and fulfilled. She is the author of Honest Sex: A Passionate Path to Deepen Connection and Keep Relationships Alive.

MaLe Corona, is an advocate of human wholeness and radical aliveness. She facilitates men’s groups that restore the somatic nervous system and enhance the quality of men’s presence, as they practice embodied relating. She quotes Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score:

“One of the clearest lessons from contemporary neuroscience is that our sense of ourselves is anchored in a vital connection with our bodies. We do not truly know ourselves unless we can feel and interpret our physical sensations; we need to register and act on these sensations to navigate safely through life.”

Please come visit our website, Moonshot for Mankind, and join us. We are looking for individuals and organizations who share our vision for a better world for all.

This is the last article in this series. If you would like to read more articles like these, I invite you to join our mailing list. It is free and you will get the latest information on gender-specific healing and men’s health.

The post The Myth of Mental Illness and the Truth About Mental Health: A Man’s Journey to Freedom appeared first on MenAlive.

I grew up in a small family of meat eaters. For breakfast my mother would  make me a hamburger, usually served with apple sauce and instant white rice on the side. For lunch I would have some beef ribs, with similar side dishes. Dinner was the main meal of the day, so I got  a sizeable steak and she would add a helping of canned peas because

“a growing boy needs a few vegetables to go along with his meat,”

she would tell me. It went without saying that I would have a glass of milk to go with the meal and ice cream for dessert if I cleaned my plate.

            We weren’t the only ones who ate a similar diet in the Los Angeles suburbs of the 1950s. Television was still relatively new and there were ads for home freezers and sides of beef that were relatively inexpensive and would be delivered regularly. We were a little unusual in that we were a two-person family. My father had been hospitalized following “a nervous breakdown” when I was five years old. His journey in and out of the mental hospital is a story I tell in my memoir, My  Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound.

After my father left, my mother had to get a job outside the home to support us. I was an only child and these were the days where boys were taught that to grow up to be healthy and strong, meat and dairy were the cornerstones of the best Male American Diet. It was a long while before I realized that this kind of diet was not only unhealthy but crazy and deadly.

            I was a sickly kid growing up, despite what society at large was telling us about the benefits of meat and dairy rich diet. I had asthma, had become increasingly pudgy, then later, overweight. As an adult, I was too busy chasing the American dream of financial success to think about what I was putting in my body. I became a psychotherapist and later a writer. But my life changed one day when I came across a book by John Robbins, Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness and the Future of Life on Earth.

            Groomed from childhood to succeed his father as head of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream empire, John had learned about a different way to eat that did not include meat and dairy, one healthier for men, women, children, and the planet we all share.

Real Men Eat Plants

            Another man who was influenced by the work of John Robbins is Jonathan Spitz. I first met Jon when he ran a local health food store in Mendocino County. We became reacquainted at a book signing party at our local library. His new book has the provocative title, Man Eating Plants: How a Vegan Diet Can Save the World. Jon’s story has some similarities to my own.

“At the age of 51 my father died of a massive heart attack,”

Jon told me.

“I was 21 years old at the time. I idolized my father as a role model for what it meant to be a strong, confident, intelligent man who was in total control of his life, so his sudden death came as a major jolt to my entire concept of manhood, and I came to the disempowering conclusion that we all just live at the mercy of fates beyond our control”.

“Years later in my mid-30s, at the urging of my wife, I took an interest in nutrition and I learned how eating a healthy plant-based diet can not only cure people of heart disease and other common chronic degenerative diseases such as diabetes and cancer, but it can prevent these diseases from occurring in the first place if started early in life. Unfortunately for my father, he never learned how to take control over his health through a plant-based diet, and as he ate the standard American diet (SAD) loaded with meat, dairy and eggs, he battled high blood pressure and weight gain his entire life.

“Over the years my doctors have told me that because heart disease runs in my family I need to take statin drugs to lower my blood cholesterol and reduce my risk of dying from a heart attack like my father. But instead of taking the drugs, at the age of 37 I decided to adopt a plant-based diet. I am now 70 years old and have none of the risk factors for heart disease and I lead a physically active lifestyle”. 

“It has been nearly 50 years since my father died, and over that time my concept of what it means to be a man in control of my life has changed considerably from my youth. By taking control over my personal health with a plant-based diet, I empowered myself to be the strong, confident and intelligent man that my father was denied.”

“Taking control over our personal health is one self-empowering benefit of a plant-based diet, but eating plant foods instead of animal foods also confers powerful benefits to our local communities and to our entire planet. In my new book, Man Eating Plants, I chronicle how raising livestock to satisfy the human demand for unhealthy animal foods is the leading cause of both global warming and mass species extinction in the world today. I also reveal how providing a healthy plant-based diet for the human population could actually help mitigate these catastrophic threats to our precious life sustaining planet.”

“When I started eating a plant-based diet 33 years ago, the idea of eating a diet free of meat, dairy and eggs was mostly unheard of, but nowadays there are many well-known male celebrities who eat plant-based, including, to name a few:

  • Hollywood superstar Woody Harrelson, of the hit TV show Cheers and star of the blockbuster film The Hunger Games, has been a strong plant-based advocate for over 30 years. Speaking about his plant-based lifestyle, Harrelson said, ‘Becoming vegan was the biggest change I ever made in my life, and one of the greatest accomplishments as well.’ That’s saying a lot coming from such an accomplished man.
  • Legendary lead guitarist for the rock band Queen, Brian May, is a passionate plant-based advocate. Speaking to the on-line music magazine NME in 2020, May said, ‘It’s becoming more well known that eating animals is not the greatest thing for our health. To go vegan was just a decision, and I haven’t been preachy about it. But now, we’ve seen more of the effects of how eating animals has brought us to our knees as a species. I think it’s time to re-examine our world in a way that doesn’t abuse other species.’ Brian May rocks with compassion.
  • Spiderman star Tobey Maguire started eating plant-based in 2009. Maguire, who literally plays a superhero in the movies, told Parade Magazine, ‘I’ve never had any desire to eat meat. In fact, when I was a kid I would have a really difficult time eating meat at all.’ Just goes to show, you don’t need to eat meat to become a superhero.

Men are protective by nature. To protect themselves, their families and communities, all the other animals, and our life sustaining planet, is why Woody Harrelson, Brian May and Tobey Maguire each chose a plant-based diet. Because real men eat plants. “

“At this very moment in time, adopting a plant-based diet is the single most effective action every man can take to control his own health and to protect the health of our mother Earth for future generations. Eating plants transforms a man into an eco-superhero! What could be manlier than that?”

You can learn more about Jon’s book, Man Eating Plants: How a Vegan Diet Can Save the World, on Amazon.

If you’d like to read more article’s about men’s mental, emotional, physical, and relational health, come visit me at MenAlive. You are invited to subscribe to my free weekly newsletter with information you can use to live long and well. 

The post Man Eating Plants: How I Learned the Secrets of A Diet for a Healthy New World appeared first on MenAlive.

Part 6 – The Future of Mental Health for Men

            This is the 6th part of the seven-part series. You can check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4,  and Part 5 if you’d like to read any you have missed. As a mental health professional over the last fifty-plus years I’ve observed that men, as a group, have been more resistant to getting help than women as a group. Many people have blamed men for their reluctance to seek help, implying that males are less interested in their mental, emotional, and relational health than are females.

            Another reason for men’s reluctance to seek professional help may be that the mental health system has gotten out of touch with the needs of men and the services they provide are not adequate to meet men’s deeper desires for health and wellbeing.  My father didn’t escape from the mental hospital because he was resistant to getting help for his despair and depression. He escaped because the treatment he was receiving was making him worse rather than better.

            Mental health treatments had improved greatly since my father was hospitalized in 1949 and I began my own graduate training in 1965. But from 1970 to 1990, three developments came together that resulted in a “Mental-Illness-Industrial-Complex” that has limited our ability to provide high level mental health services for men and their families. These included:

  1. Pharmaceutical companies gradual escalation of the use of drugs for treating “mental” problems, direct to patient marketing, eventually resulting in huge financial profits.
  2. Emergence of neuroscience and resultant view that “mental illness” was a brain disease treatable with drugs.
  3. The transition of modern psychiatry from a then-eclectic field that included psychodynamic psychotherapy, social interventions, and drug treatment, into one that focused heavily on the biological aspects of health and disorders, which turned out to mean using drugs almost exclusively for treatment.

New Understandings of Trauma and Gender-Specific Health Care

            The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) studies which began in 1995, which I described in Part 4 of this series, demonstrated that abuse, neglect, and abandonment suffered in childhood contributed to later physical, emotional, and mental health problems in adulthood. Subsequent studies built upon these studies and opened the doors to a more comprehensive and effective healthcare options that helped everyone, but particularly men.

            A few of the leaders in this emerging field of gender-specific health care and a more expanded understanding of mental health include the following:

  • Marianne J. Legato, M.D, founder of The Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine.

            In her book, Eve’s Rib: The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine and How It Can Save Your Life, she says,

“Until now, we’ve acted as though men and women were essentially identical except for the differences in their reproductive function. In fact, information we’ve been gathering over the past ten years tells us that this is anything but true, and that everywhere we look, the two sexes are startlingly and unexpectedly different not only in their normal function but in the ways they experience illness.”

  • David C. Page, M.D., Professor of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Core Member Whitehead Institute.  

Dr. Page examines the genetic differences between males and females — and how they play out in disease, development, and evolution. In his TED talk, “Why Sex Matters,” he says,

“There are 10 trillion cells in the human body and every one of them is sex specific.  We’ve had a unisex vision of the human genome. Men and women are not equal in our genome and men and women are not equal in the face of disease.”

In looking at the future of healthcare Dr. Page concludes,

“We need to build a better tool kit for researchers that is XX and XY informed rather than our current gender-neutral stance.  We need a tool kit that recognizes the fundamental difference on a cellular, organ, system, and person level between XY and XX. I believe that if we do this, we will arrive at a fundamentally new paradigm for understanding and treating human disease.”

  • Bruce D. Perry, M.D, PhD and Oprah Winfrey.

Dr. Perry is a neuroscientist and child psychiatrist. Oprah Winfrey is a global media leader and philanthropist. In their book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, they discuss the impact of trauma and adversity and how healing must begin with a shift to asking, “What happened to you?” rather than “What’s wrong with you?”

It is true that understanding neuroscience and how the brain functions is important in understanding mental illness and mental health, but we now know that brain structure and function can be changed do to our experiences.

“Not only is ‘What happened to you?’ the key question if you want to understand someone, it is the key question if you want to understand the brain. In other words, your personal history—the people and places in your life—influences your brain’s development.”

  • Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. is founder and medical director of the trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is also a professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. In his book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, he says,

“One does not have to be a combat soldier, or visit a refugee camp in Syria or the Congo to encounter trauma. Trauma happens to us, our friends, our families, and our neighbors.”

“Research by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has shown that one in five Americans was sexually molested as a child; one in four was beaten by a parent to a point where a mark being left on their body; and one in three couples engages in physical violence. A quarter of us grew up with alcoholic relatives, and one out of eight witnessed their mother being beaten or hit. Trauma affects not only those who are directly exposed to it, but also those around them.”

  • Gabor Maté

Gabor Maté,  is a renowned addiction expert. He calls for a compassionate approach toward addiction, whether in ourselves or in others. Dr. Maté believes that the source of addictions is not to be found in genes but in the early childhood environment. In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts, one of his best-selling books, draws on cutting-edge science and real-life stories to show that all addictions originate in trauma and emotional loss.

In his book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture, he says,

“The current medical paradigm, owing to an ostensibly scientific bend that in some ways bears more resemblance to an ideology than to empirical knowledge, commits a double fault. It reduces complex events to their biology, and it separates the mind from body, concerning itself exclusively with one or the other without appreciating their essential unity. This shortcoming does not invalidate medicine’s indisputably miraculous achievements, nor sully the good intentions of so many people practicing it, but it does seriously constrain the good that medical science could be doing.”

The Future of Mental Health: Deconstructing the Mental Disorder Paradigm

            Eric Maisel, PhD is the author of more than 50 books. His interests include creativity, the creative life, and the profession of creativity coaching, which he founded; issues of life purpose and meaning; mental health and critical psychology (also known as critical psychiatry and anti-psychiatry); and parenting in a “mental disorder” age.

            In his book, The Future of Mental Health: Deconstructing the Mental Disorder Paradigm Dr. Maisel deconstructs the “mental disorder” paradigm that is still at the foundation of much current mental health practices. He presents an alternative “human experience” paradigm that sheds light on the differences between so-called

“psychiatric medication and chemicals with powerful effects, explains why the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is silent on causes, silent on treatment, and wedded to illegitimate “symptom pictures.”

            Dr. Maisel describes powerful helping alternatives like communities of care and explains why one day “human experience specialists” may replace current mental health professionals.  

Sensitive Men Rising and Men’s Mental, Emotional, and Relational Heath.

            In his book, The Myth of Normal, Gabor Maté talks about the connection between the trait of emotional sensitivity and emotional health or illness. He says,

“Genetic vulnerabilities do not code for illness, but they may confer sensitivity for a person being more impacted by life’s vicissitudes than someone else with a hardier disposition—a far from trivial effect. Sensitive people feel more, feel deeply, and are more easily overwhelmed by stress, just jut subjectively but physiologically.”

            In an interview, “Are You a Highly Sensitive Person,” he says,

“The word for sensitivity comes from the Latin word for feeling. The more you sense, the more you get in tune with the environment. That’s what artists and creative people of all types do which promotes the superpower of creativity.”

A new documentary film, Sensitive Men Rising, the filmmakers tell us that from the time when large animals evolved, biologists agree that individuals in most species have been born with one of two survival strategies. The aggressive majority use speed first at all cost. The sensitive minority, who make up 20% to 30% of the population, take their time and  “watch before acting.”

Both ways of being in the world can be successful and exist side by side. In humans both can be hunters, warriors, protectors of the family, but with different styles. However, as nations have replaced tribes and guns have replaced arrows, some of the majority have used aggression to amass power and abuse the weak. The sensitive minority, ignored, and sometimes bullied, have receded further into their quiet watching. This has to change. This must change.

Dr. Tracy Cooper, one of the film’s producers, is an International Consultant on Highly Sensitive People and author of a number of books including Empowering The Sensitive Male Soul. He says,

“Variety in survival strategies are evolutionary adaptations that enabled our ancestors to exhibit a wider reaction norm, as a group, to survival threats and opportunities.”

We need more highly sensitive men to arise in support of humanity.

Our Moonshot for Mankind believes that healthy, sensitive, men are needed for the survival and wellbeing of humanity. We invite you to join us.

I will continue the story in Part 7 of this series. If you’d like to hear more about men’s mental health and other important issues, I invite you to join our online-community and subscribe to our weekly newsletter. It is free and you can easily unsubscribe if you ever find it no longer meets your needs.

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Part 5 – Male vs. Female Depression

            This is the 5th of a 7-part series. You can check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 if you’d like to read any you have missed. Having confronted my own fears about “mental illness” and worry that I would end up in a mental hospital like my father, I wanted to better understand mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder. I also wanted to explore the differences between male depression and female depression.

When my wife and I had both been given the standard questionnaire to assess depression, she scored high indicating her symptoms were consistent with depression, but I scored low, indicating my symptoms were not. Yet both of us benefitted from treatment. I wanted to learn more about male and female differences.

            I decided to return to graduate school and found a unique program where I could earn a PhD in International Health and do my dissertation study comparing male and female depression. It took seven years to complete all my courses, conduct the research, write, and defend my dissertation. My study was then published as book, Male vs. Female Depression: Why Men Act Out and Women Act In.

My Personal and Professional Interest in Male Depression

The impetus for my study and subsequent book was both professional and personal. As a psychotherapist who has been working in the field of gender medicine and men’s health for more than forty years, I have been concerned with the high rate of suicide found in males.  Although studies indicate that women experience depression at nearly twice the rate of  men, the suicide rate in males is 3 to 15 times higher than the rates found in women, with rates increasing significantly as men age. 

            It seemed clear to me that too many depressed men were under-diagnosed and under-treated.  Too many men were dying because their depression wasn’t recognized by themselves, the people who loved them, or health-care professionals who were tasked to treat them. 

            More personally, I grew up in a family where my father suffered from depression.  He had become increasingly depressed when he couldn’t support his family in his chosen profession. In despair, he took an overdose of sleeping pills. Though he survived, he was committed to a state mental hospital. Our lives were never the same. I grew up wondering what happened to my father, how I could keep it from happening to me, and how I could help other families to prevent the pain and suffering that we went through.

The research leading to the publication of this book began with a few simple questions:

  • If the traditional questionnaires used to diagnose depression leave out questions that might indicate depression in males, could this contribute to men being under-diagnosed and under-treated?
  •  Do depressed men exhibit different symptoms than depressed women? 
  • Would a new questionnaire that was more sensitive to male depression help prevent suicide?

Men and Women Have Different Experiences With Depression

When I began my research, one of the most consistent findings in the social epidemiology of mental health is the gender gap in depression. Many studies indicate that depression is approximately twice as prevalent among women as it is among men and increases with age. One of the most consistent findings in the social epidemiology of mental health is the gender gap in depression. Many studies indicate that depression is approximately twice as prevalent among women as it is among men.

            J. Douglas Bremner, M.D. is Professor of Psychiatry and Radiology and Director Emory Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit (ECNRU) where he conducts research on stress-related illnesses.  In a very interesting experiment, he gathered a group of former depression patients.  With their permission, he gave them a beverage that was spiked with an amino acid that blocks the brain’s ability to absorb serotonin (anti-depressant drugs help increase the levels of serotonin in the brain).

            What I found fascinating were the gender specific differences in the way men and women reacted to the potion that blocked the effects of the serotonin.  Typical of the males was John, a middle-aged businessman who had fully recovered from a bout of depression thanks to a combination of psychotherapy and Prozac. Within minutes of drinking the brew, however,

“He wanted to escape to a bar across the street,”

recalls Bremner.

“He didn’t express sadness … he didn’t really express anything. He just wanted to go to Larry’s Lounge.” 

            Contrast John’s response with that of female subjects like Sue, a mother of two in her mid-thirties. After taking the cocktail,

“She began to cry and express her sadness over the loss of her father two years ago,”

recalls Bremner.

“She was overwhelmed by her emotions.”

A New Way of Assessing Depression in Men: The Diamond Male Depression Scale

The hypothesis of my study was that men were being underdiagnosed and undertreated because the depression scales that were commonly used did not include many of the symptoms, such as irritability and anger, that depressed men experience. The study findings are summarized as follows:

Background:  Based on his research on the Swedish island of Gotland in the 1980s, Wolfgang Rutz postulated a “male depressive syndrome” with atypical symptoms that differ from common depressive symptoms found in females.  Recent studies assessing the link between gender and depression symptoms using the Gotland scale have been contradictory.  

Aims:  To investigate whether a new scale (Diamond Male Depression Scale) including atypical symptoms of depression would be useful in distinguishing between depressed males and depressed females and to assess whether suicide risk is predicted by atypical symptoms of depression.  

Method: A total of 1072 individuals (323 females and 749 males) filled out the on-line questionnaire including questions assessing typical depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Screen), atypical depression ( Diamond Male Depression Scale; Gotland Male Depression Scale) and suicide risk. 

Results: Three Factors from the Diamond Male Depression Scale–Emotional Acting-In, Emotional Acting-Out, and Physical Acting-Out–were identified.  Both depressed and non-depressed men scored significantly higher than depressed and non-depressed women on Factor 2, Emotional Acting-Out and Factor 3, Physical Acting-Out.  There was a significant relationship between suicide risk and Factor 1, Emotional Acting-In.

Conclusions:  The study adds credence to the concept of a “male depressive syndrome” with atypical symptoms that relate to depression and suicide risk. The three factor Diamond Male Depression Scale may be a useful tool for assessing depression and suicide risk. Further research is needed to validate the scale. 

The three subscales and the items in each are listed as follows: 

Sub-Scale 1: Emotional Acting-In Depression

This scale focused on feeling negative, stressed, empty, and other internal expressions of depression and included the following items from the full fifty-one-item questionnaire:

•          d28: I feel I’d like to get away from it all.

•          d34: I feel that things are stacked against me.

•          d35: People I count on disappoint me.

•          d36: I feel stressed out.

•          d40: I feel emotionally numb and closed down.

•          d41: I feel hopeless about the future.

•          d42: I feel powerless to improve things in my life.

•          d43: I feel my life has little worth or value.

•          d44: I have little interest or pleasure in doing things.

•          d45: I find I am complaining about things in my life.

•          d46: I feel sorry for myself.

•          d48: I feel burned out.

•          d49: I feel empty inside.

•          d50: I feel tired even when there is no reason to be so.

•          d51: I have difficulty making everyday decisions.

Sub-Scale 2: Emotional Acting-Out Depression

This scale focused on such things as being difficult, irritable, angry, and other external emotional expressions of depression and included the following items from the full fifty-one-item questionnaire:

•          d1: I flare up quickly.

•          d2: I have trouble controlling my temper.

•          d22: I am easily annoyed, become grumpy, or impatient.

•          d27: Other people “drive me up the wall.”

•          d29: When others disagree with me, I get very upset.

•          d37: It doesn’t take much to set me off.

•          d38: I have difficulty maintaining self-control.

Sub-Scale 3: Physical Acting-Out Depression

This scale focused on such things as violence, gambling, alcohol abuse, and other external, physical expressions of depression and included the following items from the full fifty-one-item questionnaire:

•          d4: I have hit someone when I was provoked.

•          d8: I work longer hours because going home is stressful.

•          d10: I gamble with money I have set aside for other things.

•          d11: I drive fast or recklessly as a way of letting off steam.

•          d12: If I’m feeling low, I’ll use sex as a pick-me-up.

•          d23: I have felt I should cut down on my drinking or drug use.

•          d30: I feel like picking a fight with someone.

•          d31: I get so jealous or possessive I feel like I could explode.

I use these scales when I see clients. The questions help us assess what areas are problematic and give us a better understanding of possible depression. I don’t use it as a formal way to diagnose people but a way to collaborate with each person by finding ways to help them solve problems that are causing them to feel the way they do.

A more recent study by Lisa A. Martin, PhD and colleagues at University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), lends credence to these earlier findings that men and women express depression through different symptoms.  Dr. Martin concluded,

“We know that men are less likely than women to seek treatment, even when they recognize that they are depressed. Incorporating these symptoms may not only identify depression in more men, it may lead to ways to entice more men to get help.” 

More research is needed, but it is clear that men and women experience depression differently, men are still under-diagnosed and under-treated, and we need an expanded understanding of mental health and the emotional wounding we all experience. I will discuss more in upcoming articles.

If you enjoy reading my work, I invite you to join and receive our free newsletter and become a part of our Menalive community.

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In these times of personal and political conflict, there is one thing that most everyone agrees upon—humanity is in deep trouble. According to the most knowledgeable scientists in the world,

“We are at a time of unprecedented danger. It is 90 seconds to midnight.”

            Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The Doomsday Clock is set every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 10 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to global catastrophe caused by manmade technologies.

            This year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine. The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.

            Few people want to accept how close we are to the end of humanity or that we really have a chance to turn the hands of the clock back before it strikes midnight and humans become the shortest-lived species in evolutionary history. If we continue feeling what we are feeling, thinking what we are thinking, and doing what we are doing, we are doomed. We may blow ourselves up or continue to heat up our planet until we destroy our environmental support system and cook ourselves to death. Or we may find some other way to check ourselves out of the community of life on planet Earth.

            But before we give into despair, there is another choice we can make, one suggested not by world-class scientists like Albert Einstein, but by a female comedian named Elayne Boosler. She said,

“When women are depressed they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It’s a whole different way of thinking.”

Ms. Boosler points to some interesting possibilities:

  • The root of our problem may be our collective belief that things are hopeless.
  • Given the world we have created it is not surprising that both men and women can feel depressed and despairing.
  • Women tend to turn their depression inwards and cause problems for themselves.
  • Men tend to turn their depression outwards and cause problems for others.
  • Believing men are bad and the cause of the world’s problems is understandable but does not help to change things for good.
  • A change in our mindset must occur before we can bring humanity back from the eve of destruction.

More than anyone I know, Riane Eisler, offers a realistic way to turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock before it is too late.

Riane Eisler: Tipping the Balance From Domination To Partnership

            Riane Eisler is one of the world’s leading cultural historians and systems scientist. She is President and Co-Founder of the Center for Partnership Systems. She is internationally known for her bestseller The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future, now in 57 U.S. printings and 27 foreign editions. Her newest work, Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Future, co-authored with anthropologist Douglas Fry shows how to construct a more equitable, sustainable, and less violent world based on Partnership rather than Domination.

            I first met Riane Eisler in 1987 shortly after the publication of her book The Chalice & the Blade. I remember discussing our views on the future of humanity and the healing that needed to occur between men and women. My first book, Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man, had been published in 1983, in which I described my own healing journey. At a time when many female writers were blaming men for the problems in the world, I appreciated that Riane understood that the problem was not men, but the system of domination that harmed both women and men.

When I first read these words in The Chalice & the Blade, I was moved by their simplicity, vision, and truth:

“Underlying the great surface diversity of human culture are two basic models of society. The first, which I call the dominator model, is what is popularly termed either patriarchy or matriarchy—the ranking of one-half of humanity over the other. The second, in which social relations are primarily based on the principle of linking rather than ranking, may best be described as the partnership model. In this model—beginning with the most fundamental difference in our species, between male and female—diversity is not equated with either inferiority or superiority.”

More than most, Riane’s life experience has helped her recognize the destructive aspects of the Dominator System. In her book Nurturing Our Humanity, she describes her early influences and insights. When Riane was six, the German and Austrian Nazis took over her native Vienna. Riane’s father was dragged off by the Gestapo. Her mother miraculously obtained his release, and the family fled to Cuba.

            With her move to the United States in 1946 came further formative experiences. As she and her parents arrived at last to the promised land of American liberty and equality, they found in Miami, their port of entry, yet another disempowered out-group, or “other.” In the rigidly segregated South of that time, they discovered one more variation of the all-too-familiar use of cultural narratives to justify the persecution and subordination of “inferior” beings.

            I have been a friend and supporter of Riane’s work since we first met. Her Center is a beacon of hope for women, men, and humanity.

“The mission of the Center for Partnership Systems,” says Riane, “is to catalyze movement towards Partnership Systems on all levels of society through research, education, grassroots empowerment, and policy initiatives. CPS’s programs focus on promoting human rights and nonviolence, gender and racial equity, child development, and new metrics that demonstrate the financial contribution of the work of care.”

            I was recently interviewed by Riane for the Center’s Power of Partnership Podcasts. My topic was “The Power of Partnership: Healing Men and Leaving Violence Behind.” I described my own healing journey and the work of myself and my colleagues who recently launched our Moonshot For Mankind.

The Moonshot for Mankind and What Men Can Do to Ensure the Survival of Humanity

            At this stage of my career, spanning more than fifty years, I want to use the time I still have to make the most positive impact in the world.

Nearly twenty years ago, Randolph Nesse, MD and Daniel Kruger, PhD examined premature deaths among men in 20 countries. They found that in every country, men died sooner and lived sicker than women and their shortened health and lifespan harmed the men and their families.

They concluded with these powerful statements:

  • “Over 375,000 lives would be saved in a single year in the U.S. alone if men’s risk of dying was as low as women’s.”
  • “If you could make male mortality rates the same as female rates, you would do more good than curing cancer.” 
  • “Being male is now the single largest demographic factor for early death.”

When I first began working in the field of Gender-Specific Healing and Men’s Health more than fifty years ago, there were very few programs that worked effectively with men to improve the wellbeing of men and their families. Now there are many. Two years ago I invited a number of colleagues to join me in creating a Moonshot for Mankind in support of humanity.

Our group partnered with Dr. Jim Garrison and his team at Humanity Rising to present a series of on-line events July 25-28, 2023. We also shared our video about the Moonshot for Mankind and invited other individuals and organizations to join us. We also introduced a pledge that organizations and individual men can take.

The individual pledge was written by Frederick Marx, the internationally acclaimed, Oscar and Emmy nominated director, writer, and filmmaker. He says, “I envision thousands of men’s organizations worldwide partnering with us to sign and promote a simple Five-Point Men’s Wellness Vow:

  • I will remain healthy in mind and body.
  • I will nourish and grow my emotional awareness.
  • I will become familiar with my internal darkness and never harm another man, woman, or child.
  • I will ask for help and strive to live cooperatively, not competitively, with men.
  • I will become the best man I can be, living with honor and pride in my masculinity.

This does not mean that women haven’t contributed to our dire situation or that women can’t create their own, similar, pledge in support of womankind and humanity. But think what it might mean if our two likely U.S. Presidential candidates took this Wellness Vow and put it into practice. Think what it would mean if the two presidents of Russia and Ukraine did the same. Think what the world would be like if everyone followed the Partnership practices that Riane Eisler has been developing for more than thirty-five years.

Could a simple action like taking and acting on this simple pledge be the key to ensuring the survival of humanity? We are committed to finding out. We invite you to join us at You can learn more about Riane’s work at the Center for Partnership Systems.

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