Book Reviews -- Silent Sons by Robert J. Ackerman

Article excerpt

ROBERT J. ACKERMAN: Silent Sons. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1993, 235 pp., $21.00.

As the men's movement passed me by, and my copy of Robert Bly's Iron John has not yet been cracked, I am either the least or most qualified to review Dr. Ackerman's Silent Sons. His "silent sons" are men who grew up in dysfunctional families yet deny the impact of this experience on their current behavior regardless of the problems it causes those around them. He acknowledges that the fact that he, himself, is a silent son, prompted his conducting a study of these men. Ackerman describes the silent son as, in a nutshell, withdrawn, angry, and vulnerable. He suggests that while they do indeed present as inaccessible and unrelatable, they in fact carry positive characteristics that may be tapped in their interaction with others.

As a male reader proceeds through this popularly paced book, he may see himself as sharing the characteristics Ackerman ascribes to the emotionally inaccessible man of today. In his first chapter, Ackerman asks, "Are you a silent son?" The answer might be: "Sure...show me a man who isn't," or who does not embrace the characteristics described by the author.

This book is briskly written and moves the reader along a path of self-identification of the silent-son syndrome. Ackerman takes care not to indict newly sprung silent sons by noting heir assets or at least, reframing their less functional behaviors. …