Examining What We
Learned About Anger
While Growing Up
Our task, then, is to strengthen our consciousness of ourselves, to find
centers of strength within ourselves which will enable us to stand
despite the confusion and bewilderment around us.
Having devoted attention in the last section of the book to connecting with others, we move into important material on self-healing in the next three chapters. Rollo May has outlined our task quite well. Prior to examining new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that strengthen us and promote healing, however, it’s necessary to reflect on how we got the way we are. Before we were ever nurses, we were learning emotional habits along gendered lines. Daniel Levinson (1996) proposed a concept called “gender splitting” that I find more useful than “gender differences,” because it more accurately depicts the splitting asunder or rigid division between masculine and feminine in human life. Gender splitting has been pervasive, occurring in virtually every society in the history of the human species. What is sanctioned for masculine and feminine gender roles varies according to historical period, social class, and other factors, but there is always gender splitting. The splitting operates in institutions, family life, and the individual human psyche.
Growing boys and girls are rapidly inculcated with societal norms about men’s work and women’s work, men’s strength and women’s weakness, and other stereotypical polarities. So too, they learn the