Mythopoetic Perspectives of Men's Healing Work: An Anthology for Therapists and Others

By Edward Read Barton | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Parallels Between Mythopoetic Men's Work/Men's Peer Mutual Support Groups and Selected Feminist Theories Edward Read Barton
Bliss ( 1986) first applied the term mythopoetic to the spiritually oriented branch of the burgeoning contemporary men's movement. The word comes from mythopoesis, which refers to remythologizing. Thus, the use of the mythopoetic approach "means revisioning masculinity for our time" ( Bliss, 1995, p. 293). The term did not come to popular awareness until Bly Iron John was published in 1990 and topped the New York Times best-seller list for many months, though the precursor to that was Keith Thompson's 1982 interview of Bly, "What Do Men Really Want?"Mythopoetic men's work (MPMW) uses myths and poetry as vehicles for accessing inner emotions, inner realities, and feelings. The accessing of these feelings is part of the remythologizing of the man and his masculinity for this time. These feelings are often deeply buried in men, who have been socialized by North American culture and society to ignore or deny most feelings except anger. By using the tools of myth, poetry, and experiential processes, men can access these feelings and emotions to re-vision a form of masculinity that is healthy for himself, his family or household, his relationships, his community, and his planet.MPMW extensively borrows from Jungian psychology ( Schwalbe 1996) and humanistic psychology. Hollis ( 1994), for example, lists and discusses the eight secrets men carry within themselves:
1. Men's lives are as much governed by restrictive role expectations as are the lives of women.
2. Men's lives are essentially governed by fear.

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