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New book: Perspectives in Male Psychology

  • Should we believe everything that we hear about men and masculinity?
  • What role do evolution, biology and culture play in men’s behaviour?
  • Do we tend to blame men for their health problems more than is reasonable?
  • What can be done to reduce male criminality?
  • How can the standard approach to men’s mental health be improved?
  • What does gender equality mean for men?

A new book on male psychology will be available in a few months time, authored by Louise Liddon and Dr John Barry, and published by Wiley.

In around 300 pages this book uses evidence from science to shed light to some of todays heated issues around men and masculinity. A spectrum of the topics – including education, sport and the workplace – are explored, and questions answered.

More information will be available soon. To hear the latest, sign up to the free newsletter

 

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The Male Psychology undergraduate module – a first for the UK and the world

by Dr Becci Owens

Male psychology is a recent development in academia, having first being proposed by UK consultant clinical psychologist Martin Seager in 2010. Male Psychology values any perspectives – including biological factors – that can help in the understanding of the psychology of men and boys. In fact one of the topics of interest in Male Psychology is the question of why it is such an under researched area. (Spoiler alert – we believe that a cognitive distortion called gamma bias plays a role. You will learn more about this on the module).

Although several universities run men’s studies modules, these tend to magnify social-constructionist explanations of behaviour, and mostly minimise the importance of biological, genetic and evolutionary influences. Also men’s studies, like gender studies (which mostly focuses on women), takes a relatively negative view of masculinity. In contrast Male Psychology takes the pragmatic view that there is much more to be gained by harnessing the positive aspects of masculininty.

The really exciting news is that this week I give our stage two students at the University of Sunderland the chance to study the first – to my knowledge – Male Psychology undergraduate module, at stage three.

In this new module, we will consider sex differences in evolved cognitive architecture which provides a basic ‘template’ with which men and women develop and interact with their environment. This predisposes men and women to experience many things differently, and embody these differences in ways that are dismissed as some people as stereotypes, or recognised by others as archetypes (Seager, 2019).

The module will also explore the concept of masculinity from cross-cultural and comparative perspectives, and challenge the fashionable notion that masculinity is inherently toxic. We will also examine sex differences in the experience of trauma, and sex differences in how trauma is managed. For example, women are more likely to internalise trauma, experiencing anxiety and depression, whereas men are more likely to externalise trauma, developing difficulties with inhibition control leading to risk taking behaviours.

This module will consider the impact of gender roles and stereotyping in mental health. For example, if we see men as interested only in uncommitted sexual relations, how much empathy do we have when it comes to the long-term mental health impact of involuntary childlessness on men? Also, if we see men as dominant, aggressive, assertive and power-seeking, but how does this stereotype impact the way we view male victims of intimate partner violence?

The core textbooks for the module include the Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology and Mental Health, and a forthcoming textbook Perspectives in Male Psychology (published by Wiley). The Palgrave Handbook consists of 32 chapters from the leading academics and practitioners in Male Psychology from around the world. Our stage three students will begin a critical introduction to male psychology, including guest lectures from members of the Male Psychology Section of the BPS, and authors of the Handbook of Male Psychology.

I hope that this module will be useful not only in bring new light to how we understand the psychology of men and boys, but will inform a new generation of psychologists in ways that will be of practical and theoretical value no matter what their main area of interest is. For example, those who are interested in mental health will find insights from male psychology invaluable, as will those interested in health, sports, crime, child psychology, education, and the workplace.

Male Psychology is a brand new and rapidly expanding field, and I look forward to welcoming new students to this subject.

 

About the author

Dr Becci Owens is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sunderland, a Chartered Psychologist, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is an evolutionary psychologist with a research focus on male psychology and mental health, sex differences in mating behaviours and mating strategies, and body image and modifications.
Becci’s chapter in the Handbook of Male Psychology was published recently: Barry JA and Owens B (2019). From fetuses to boys to men: the impact of testosterone on male lifespan development, in Barry JA, Kingerlee R, Seager MJ and Sullivan L (Eds.) (2019). The Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology and Mental Health. London: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-04384-1
Email: rebecca.owens@sunderland.ac.uk ; Twitter: @DrBecciOwens
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Men’s Mental Health in South Korea

by Alaric Naudé EdD PhD

In the third of our occasional series of blogs about views of Male Psychology and masculinity around the world, Professor of linguistics, Alaric Naudé, tells us about men’s mental health in the South Korea today.

Korea is a land of contrasts and beauty in many ways. However, just as many beautiful creatures have harsh toxins, Korea has several elements that can make it a harsh environment for men. Many of the difficulties that surround males are driven by the recent events in history including the Korean War and the hyper-military dictatorships that followed. These difficulties in pressure on men have also translated into unhappiness for the family unit.

The hierarchical structure of Korean society is based on Neo-Confucianism principles and this is reflected in the built in honorifics system of the Korean language. Korean grammar structure changes depending on the hierarchical position of the speaker relative to the person being addressed. Both men and women are under strict social pressure to behave to a certain standard and while this can be beneficial to social harmony, an unbalanced approach can lead to friction and disadvantage.

Fortunately in Korea the concept of feminism is not taken very seriously, ironically, strongest opposition come from women who view the movement as an affront to tradition, patronising and their extreme behaviour to be against the greater social good. With that said, there are specific inequalities that men have faced and are facing in Korea.

The hyper-militaristic dictatorship under Chung Hee Park forced conscription of men onto the whole country. His personal ideology was highly influenced by Bushido philosophy and he spearheaded his own particular brand. Men were to behave in the predefined manner as stipulated by the party policy. Unfortunately for groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, their men were specifically targeted. Their refusal of military conscription and desire to do non-military alternative service was viewed with great ire and many were beaten, tortured and killed.  Collectively they served prison sentences amounting to 37,800 years and this human rights abuse was only recently rectified.

Men in general have pressure to be of a certain socio-economic status before marriage and to have elaborate weddings, this has resulted in the marriage rate plummeting, the birth rate plummeting and the suicide rate significantly increasing. Many of my male students worry about their future work and possibility of marriage with several expressing a desire to search for work abroad.

Mental health in Korea is somewhat of a taboo subject and the stigma attached to men is significant. Having been diagnosed with a mental health issue may affect the type of work that can be gained and the ability to move up the socio-economic ranks, which in turn leads to more unhappiness and more suicide.

The Korean suicide rate is of special concern because the inability to access counselling in correlation to the stigma attached for even receiving counselling means that there is no easy remedy to the problem. Culturally men may also be hesitant to turn to their friends for assistance lest they be viewed as weak.

In school, boys are being out performed by girls. Demographically, teaching is a female dominated field and some of my female student teachers have commented that they feel unfair focus is given by other female teachers to their female students. Male students are becoming less motivated due to disinterest in studying based on the pressure of future expectations. This is likely to cause a large shift in future demographics. Females generally marry across the same socioeconomic level or upwards. Men generally marry on the same socioeconomic level or downwards. However, the current flip in academic results and the ever widening gap means that the future marriage rate will likely only continue to decrease, to the detriment of society and a catastrophe for population levels.

Like any other country, the issues facing Korea are highly complex and compounded by biological factors as well as the cultural damage caused by the Korean War. There are no easy answers, yet, psychological outreach and awareness of male mental health issues are an imperative beginning to resolving many of these conundrums.

 

About the author

Alaric Naudé EdD PhD is Professor of Linguistics at the Department of Nursing, Suwon Science College & Seoul National University of Education, South Korea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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