Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- Separation Anxiety and the Dread of Abandonment in Adult Males by Gwendolyn Stevens and Sheldon Gardner

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- Separation Anxiety and the Dread of Abandonment in Adult Males by Gwendolyn Stevens and Sheldon Gardner

Article excerpt

GWENDOLYN STEVENS AND SHELDON GARDNER: Separation Anxiety and the Dread of Abandonment in Adult Males. Praeger, Westport, Connecticut, 1994, 162 pp., $55.00.

This book has a single theme: men are a mess.

The "senior" author first noticed this 20 years ago when she divorced her husband, causing his "psychological deterioration." (The words "she" and "his" tell the whole story.) Her friends noticed the same thing when they divorced their husbands. From these observations came this book, the "junior" author (fittingly) a male.

Society and the experts have got it all wrong. Just because little boys have "greater muscle mass" and seem to want to dominate others, experts have concluded that little boys are attempting to fulfill a "masculine dream." This dream, "seductive as it is absurd," involves wanting to be coddled by women and at the same time commanding them like a pasha. The authors explain why this is absurd.

These physical attributes are of limited utility in enhancing attachment to a mothering person and thus obtain a security base that encourages curiosity and autonomy-striving. The constitutional weakness of males makes them more helpless as infants (and thus more in need of "coddling" by women), and their maturational delays, particularly in cognitive development, impede their development of an adequate self-identity and, paradoxically, their individuation and the development of most realized "masculine traits" (p. 3).

This excerpt gives an idea of the literary style in the next 162 pages. It is no accident that the last sentence includes the word "development" three times. Development is what the book is about. Men are poor developers because they suffer from "the umbilicus complex. …

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