Separation Anxiety and the Dread of Abandonment in Adult Males

Separation Anxiety and the Dread of Abandonment in Adult Males

Separation Anxiety and the Dread of Abandonment in Adult Males

Separation Anxiety and the Dread of Abandonment in Adult Males

Synopsis

This work presents a new theory of personality development for males, one that emphasizes gender differences in biological maturation and in socialization practices that pressure boys to become emotionally independent too soon. Stevens and Gardner believe that in extreme cases males grow up harboring a primitive, unconscious dread of being abandoned that prevents them from handling separation experiences successfully. As women become more assertive in relationships, there are more female-terminated relationships, especially divorces. As psychologists, Stevens and Gardner noticed that rejected husbands were often more at risk than their estranged wives because most men are victims of the traditional socialization techniques that deny them easy access to emotional expression and support groups. Drawing from a range of disciplines, including sociology, primatology, anthropology, and psychology, the authors draw portraits of common male personality types, many of which are ill-equipped for self-fulfilling independent adult life.

Excerpt

Although books dealing with the psychology of men have recently become popular, this work actually was conceived more than twenty years ago, when the senior author divorced her husband and noticed his apparent psychological deterioration. Subsequently, other return-to-college women who have divorced their husbands have reported similar destructive behaviors.

The financial problems and feelings of loss suffered by divorcing women have long been obvious, and we women have therefore elicited sympathy and received welcome support from our sisters. But hardly anyone seemed to notice or care that divorcing men were exhibiting even worse distress. The men we were divorcing were frequently depressed, hostile, abusive, and unable to function competently, or suffering from various combinations of these. Mental health workers acknowledged the plight of men who were forced into a separation from their wife or significant other, but, until recently, finding literature on male psychology in general and the vulnerabilities of males in particular was almost impossible.

We know that some feminists argue against discussing any male trauma because they hold males responsible for general discrimination and harassment of women. However, we believe that while particular males are often real threats to the lives of women and that the patriarchal culture discriminates against women, men are every bit as much victims of our history as homo sapiens and our Euro-centered culture.

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