“Am I good enough as a male?”, that is the question. In his unique book ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’, therapist Robert Glover explains how an incessant ‘Nice-Guy’ attitude can become a prison, doing more harm than good. During an email exchange, I had recommended the book to Daniel. He found the book to be staggering. After three weeks, Daniel said how hard it was, however, to put his defensive shields down and stop habitually being the nice guy under each and every circumstance.
“If I wasn’t the nice guy, I would be showing everyone the wimp that I am underneath and how weak and soft and sensitive I can be, which I am eternally ashamed of because it’s so unmasculine. I hide this by being nice and so people would think I’m non-threatening and passive because I’m nice, not because I’m actually sensitive and afraid of getting hurt. Did I get dropped as a baby? How to be less sensitive or on high alert with my senses? How can I feel safe in the world and become tough? This is paramount to giving up the nice-guy paradigm.”
45 minutes later, his next email popped up in my in-box:
“I think I might have found the reason why I perceived Dad to reject me – I was weak and couldn’t get involved in rough play. It would be why none of the boys I went to school with liked me either. How to make a change now? How to embrace pain and be less on high alert with my senses?”
1. Placing issues outside of yourself
Daniel was busy with externalization, that is, placing his own issues outside of himself. He attributes and projects unwanted or embarrassing feelings to others. These others then bear the burden, not he himself. A trick as old as the hills. Each fighting schoolboy will yell “But he started!” even if that remark is grossly exaggerated. In doing so, Daniel was failing to see his own contribution to his state of mind. Some of the things that you encounter are caused by others, but they are also caused, or at least triggered, by your reactions, or by your lack of reactions.
Journaling exercises can do the trick to see your own actions with your own eyes. Life experiences are a to-and-fro thing. There are dynamics in the outside world, but also dynamics in the inner world of self-narrative. It has to do with what you did, but also with what you didn’t do. Perhaps until now.
(For a great book on journaling exercises, see our Free Download Page, and scroll to Book #5: Gerard van den Aardweg, ‘The Battle For Normality”).
2. Peeling onions
In this article, let us peel the onion and see what can be said about the emails. Mind you, not everything said on this website about SSA’s is equally relevant to everyone experiencing them, nor are others who do not sexualize their own sex, totally immune to these affairs. To the contrary, since 2019, science knows for sure that everyone can experience same-sex attractions and indulge in same-sex behavior, and everyone can experience opposite-sex attractions and demonstrate opposite-sex behavior. And these are not two different groups, but one and the same.
As a moderate activist, I have very bad news for my radicalized colleagues: you are no different from other people. Let us end tribalism, for heaven’s sake. Down with the ridiculous stigma’s like ‘communities’, you are horse-branding people! The use of this hot rod is “us-them” thinking at its worst. Let us face the truth: everyone possesses a full sexual potential. It is your birth right. Inherent deficits have not been proven to exist, even if it may feel that way.
This whole ‘gay’ thing is a label, pasted on attitudes in a certain point of your life as if they were immutable. But just like water flows in rivers and from tributaries to the sea, so is life always on the move. The subject of SSA’s is a final common pathway for contradictory feelings, and it is very broad. So, do not take every article on this website personally, just take your pick. Bottom line: you are a man, a full-blown man, but you do not feel it. Why?
Let us reduce Daniel’s emails to six important issues:
1. I feel like a wimp
2. I am ashamed
3. I am (read: want to be) nonthreatening
4. Dad rejected my weakness and clumsiness
5. The alleged rejection by schoolmates: “none of the boys I went to school with, liked me”
6. I want to be less sensitive: “How to be less on high alert with my senses”.
3. The need to understand paradox feelings
Explanations of these issues are not simple unless one embraces the only comprehensive way to look at same-sex attractions, namely through the lens of paradox psychology.
As we explained in part 29, paradox psychology acknowledges the existence of paradoxical feelings and behaviors. One can do or feel one thing, but at the same time, indulge in the opposite set of feelings and behaviors. Looking at life events and feelings as though they were the images on a two-sided coin is extremely useful. Uni-dimensional train of thought, however, hates this idea and strives to search for a single and straightforward answer, for once and for all. More often than not, they do not succeed in finding it.
This is the main reason why the American Psychiatric Association with its mono-dimensial angle, incessantly revises its manual on diagnoses. They are looking for a precise, single and unequivocal answer. By lack of finding a satisfactory one, the national board then decides to publish yet another revision. All sorts of activists have been invited, or have crept in, to lead the way. Outside of the club, they exert considerable pressure through the media or through the political arena to make dissident thought look bad. Time and time again since 1973, the national board caves in.
4. The internal politics of the American Psychiatric Association
By the way, the incessant revisions of their Diagnostic Manual, of which they hold the copyright, is at the same time the major source of income for this ever-dwindling group of squabbling know-it-alls. They depend on this cash-flow for their existence. The definitions have become highly politicized, and many psychiatrists who are not staunchly liberal, have left their ranks and do not pay their annual fee, to the treasurer’s dismay.
The majority of American psychiatrists are no longer members. The Association has lost its scientific credibility, ever since politics and bias have taken over. Many have joined other psychiatric associations.
In The Atlantic in 2013, we read,
“Who was involved in the creation of the DSM-5?
The American Psychiatric Association owns the DSM. They aren’t only responsible for it: they own it, sell it, and license it. The DSM is created by a group of committees. It’s a bureaucratic process. In place of scientific findings, the DSM uses consensus in very small committees to determine what mental disorders exist and how you can recognize them. Disorders come into the book the same way a law becomes part of the book of statutes. People suggest it, discuss it, and after some pressure, vote on it. Homosexuality was deleted in 1973 from the DSM 2 by a referendum, with 42% voting against the proposal; no consensus, and not based on any scientific findings. That is why so many were enraged by these new procedures. A straight up vote: yes or no, merely a matter of subjective political opinion at that time and place. It’s not always that explicit, and these days, votes are not public. In the case of the DSM-5 in 2012, committee members were forbidden to talk about it, so we’ll never really know what the deliberations were. They all signed non-disclosure agreements, ruling out all transparency and hence debate … The APA makes hundreds of millions of dollars off of this deal.”
Now that we know that there never was, or is, any consensus amongst psychiatrists about same-sex issues, we are free to explore the matter as an exciting adventure into achieving insights.
5. Am I a wimp?
Daniel’s issues can be dealt with in the following way:
The prehomosexual boy has typically experienced a hurt and disappointment in his relationship with his father. This hurt may be the result of active abuse or simply passive neglect (see Nicolosi, 1991). The boy reacts to this hurt by passing through two phases. If his overtures to the father are ignored or rejected, and he continues to feel frustrated with his father’s lack of affirmation, the boy may lapse into a strategy natural for all children his age who are frustrated—that of protest (Dallas 1990). This protest period will include crying, demanding, and disruptive behavior.
Within the unhealthy family system these displays of protest are ignored and in some cases punished. This teaches the boy a lesson that direct protest gets him nowhere—in fact, it may make things worse. When parents do not respond to the boy’s protest, he eventually lapses into helplessness and surrenders the struggle. The lesson learned from this failed protest is that he has no alternative but to retreat to his mother, carrying a sense of weakness, failure, depression, and victimization.
As protection against future hurt, he defensively detaches from his father (Moberly 1983). This final self-protective stance is subjectively experienced as “never again” (Schechter 1978). It says, “I reject you and what you represent —namely, your masculinity.”
Later in childhood, he will indirectly express his anger by ignoring his father and denying that he has any importance in the family, conspiring with his mother in collusion against his father.
Defensive detachment becomes particularly apparent when the prehomosexual boy enters the latency period and is about 5 to 12 years old. He is typically fearful and cautious toward other boys his age, staying close to his mother and perhaps grandmother, aunts, or older sisters.
He becomes the “kitchen window boy,” who looks out at his peers playing aggressively and, what appears to him, dangerously. He is attracted to the other boys; at the same time, he is frightened by what they are doing.
Defensive detachment emotionally isolates him from other males, and from his masculinity. Females are familiar, while males are mysterious. Then when sexual needs begin to seek expression in early adolescence, it is understandable that the direction of sexual interests will be away from the familiar and toward the unapproachable. We do not sexualize what we are familiar with. We are drawn to the “other-than-me.”
6. Is Dad to blame?
In retrospect, the father did not see, feel, or suspect the intensity of the child’s needs, and this contributes to a sense of psychological abandonment on the child’s part. Many children feel that they had a good materialistic upbringing, but were starved mentally. And since the love for the child is not unconditional, the child cannot love himself sufficiently, either. The eyes of the parent are the mirror of the child’s soul. The reflection of their gaze becomes his identity for years to come.
There is at all times, nevertheless, a healthy core and that is the one who is speaking out and going on a journey of exploration.
The feelings of inferiority that can be seen in the ‘wimp’-syndrome, stem from the fact that the child needed his parents at a crucial age, that he did not appear to get unconditional love and recognition when he craved for it, and so he gives up. He blames himself for not having emotional needs met. That is the basic stance which underlies the inferiority complex. The child feels that he is to blame for this predicament, and that it is due to being who he is or for having done what he did (nonsense, of course, from an adult perspective but we are talking about small powerless children). It gives rise to feelings of inferiority and, quite often, a need to be punished so as to get it over and done with. Masochism can arise, a desparate coping mechanism, making things more complicated. Ultimately, the child retreats into a cave of self-protection. This is defensive detachment and non-attachment, but it served a purpose, namely to guard the core from soul murder (see our part 6). And that defensive move worked. Therefore, it is not wrong. But it came at a price. At an adult age, however, it is time to move on.
7. Daniel emails back
Daniel starts ‘getting it’ I had explained all this to him, and then, all of a sudden, he surprised me with this email,
“Thanks, Job. I nailed it. I hit the jackpot. At least, most likely. Here goes. I’m the problem.
– It’s not others who reject me. I reject me.
– It’s not others who don’t love me. I don’t love me.
– It’s not others who think I’m unmanly. I think I’m unmanly.
– It’s not others who don’t give me esteem. I don’t give me esteem.
– It’s not others who hate me. It’s me who hates me.
I could go on… you get the picture.
How has this been unable to come to mind for so long? Why so long? Well, I could answer that too…
I have spent so long holding onto my pain and being indignant and defiant to grow up that I’ve stayed a child who loathes himself. I pity myself so much to get ego-strokes and I allow myself to sit in comfort because the world seems so challenging, but why wouldn’t it be if my internal world is so destructive? Of course, the outside world is going to reflect this back, so I fear. And because of my defenses, I don’t see myself being the perpetrator. I only see what others show me because it’s been too painful to look in until you slowly but surely started suggesting to look another way.
I now see to what extent I am part of the problem, Job. I am understanding it. I hate myself so much, I think I’m such a wimp and a piece of shit, that all of my attempts at interacting with others comes from this place. I now see that people do not abandon me, it’s my relationship with myself.”
8. The two-sided coin of wimpiness
Daniel surprised me because he instinctively found a keyhole to a new outlook on himself and his interactions with those around him. He found a hidden door and dared to share it. That is not a wimp speaking, that is a man. He is taking responsibility for his feelings and actions. These are the hallmark of a true man.
The role of a wimp is a pose and a self-narrative that has accumulated over the years. It is not something you ARE, it is merely a defensive behavior that you have acquired. It is learned behavior, a trial-and-error collection of moves forward and back into the cave of self-pity and self-protection. The pity is justified because it reflects the pain of loneliness, unmet needs, and wishes. It reflects the sorrow of the way that, in childhood, a world of real boys that others appear to have been endowed with by magic, just didn’t happen. You missed out. And no one knows. Self-pity and self-caressing is justified, especially when no one else is performing this essential task.
The way out of this predicament, out of the cave, is to do what each hermit needs to do. Come down from the hills, drop your protective shield, and learn to reach out. Do not wait for others to do so, take the initiative yourself. After all, other people have a life of their own to lead, a family or a love-life to attend to, a job, financial problems, shifting houses, health issues. They are not dying to see you and cry out: “have you seen this wonderful guy?” That was your need way back then, when you were a 2-year-old, to be exact. Those days are over, but your expectations still linger on from that era; the craving persists. And all of a sudden, young men who appear to have it all, become gods to be adored. Sexualized even. So be it. No harm done (from my secular perspective), because you are on the right track, the road to feeling manliness and at the same time, to share your vulnerability.
You admire the gods around you. Especially when they proudly show off a bare chest. (You feel like you can stare for ages!). But by reaching out, you will see that the coin of every tough guy has its flip-side. And by making contact, you may come to realize that every each man, tough-looking or otherwise, also has the need to be recognized and affirmed. Yes, by you, by little-old-you.
Men pat each other on the back; however, it is the wimp on his way back to his cave who shrieks away and ends up frustrating their need for recognition. Shiver my timbers! The wimp is doing exactly what his father appeared to have done: deserting other men emotionally. He has unknowingly copied his father’s behavior! He is acting just as cold-hearted and incomprehensible to them as his father appeared to be toward him! And then the wimp expects applause? From these same men that he has walked away from?
Once you dare to drop the shield, show your needs, and to take responsibility for these events, the wimp in you makes place for male strength, which has always laid in waiting.
to be continued