This is a guest post form Thomas Golden.
A man’s emotional pain is often invisible. You simply can’t see it. Most people assume that since it is not easy to spot that it must not exist. Worse yet, all too often the assumption is that there is something wrong with men since they don’t seem to do things like women, they must be either cold and unfeeling or backed up with tons of stuffed emotions. I had similar thoughts when I started to work with men who were facing grief and trauma back in the late 1970’s. As a beginning therapist I can remember how working with men was simply not as easy as it was with women. Women flowed with the program. The therapy at the time was largely one of talking about the past and openly emoting. In that realm women seemed more comfortable.
What I found since that time is that men often have a unique way of processing their emotions which is more private and quiet than the open talking and emoting that is more the female norm. After years of working with men and seeing up close how they handled their emotional pain I began to forge the basics of how men are unique in their path toward healing. What I found was that there wasn’t something wrong with the men, there was something wrong with the therapy [emphasis added by the editor].
This link is to a short video of a talk I gave at a conference in 2007. It does a fairly good job of going over the basics of what I have found.
**disclaimer — there is no hard and fast line between men and women. What I have found is that there are many women who grieve like many of the men and there are men who grieve more like many of the women. My experience has shown me about a 75/25 split for each sex. This calls on us to learn to seek out the uniqueness of each individual and understand their personal ways to heal whether they are masculine or feminine. We need to love all folks whether it’s the masculine women, the feminine men, or any point in between. However, at this time, we are failing miserably in even understanding the typically masculine approach much less in loving men for the way they are.
Thomas Golden, LCSW is well known in the field of healing from loss and for his book: Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing. His workshops throughout North America bring a gentle sense of humor and a gift for storytelling around grief. His work and his web site webhealing.com appeared in the New York Times and other national media. His private practice in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC.