I Don't Want to Talk about It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression

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Twenty years of experience treating men and their families has convinced psychotherapist Terrence Real that depression is a silent epidemic in men -- that men hide their condition from family, friends, and themselves to avoid the stigma of depression's "un-manliness." Problems that we think of as typically male -- difficulty with intimacy, workaholism, alcoholism, abusive behavior, and rage-are really attempts...
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Overview

Twenty years of experience treating men and their families has convinced psychotherapist Terrence Real that depression is a silent epidemic in men -- that men hide their condition from family, friends, and themselves to avoid the stigma of depression's "un-manliness." Problems that we think of as typically male -- difficulty with intimacy, workaholism, alcoholism, abusive behavior, and rage-are really attempts to escape depression. And these escape attempts only hurt the people men love and pass their condition on to their children.

This groundbreaking book is the "pathway out of darkness" that these men and their families seek. Real reveals how men can unearth their pain, heal themselves, restore relationships, and break the legacy of abuse. He mixes penetrating analysis with compelling tales of his patients and even his own experiences with depression as the son of a violent, depressed father and the father of two young sons.

"...reveals the virtual epidemic of depression among men... discusses causes including wounds common to boyhood, patterns of disconnection, pursuit of money and power, substance abuse, womanizing, and violence."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hidden male depression is the focus of this clear, compelling book by a Massachusetts family psychotherapist who specializes in working with dysfunctional men. Because our culture socializes boys to mask feelings of vulnerability, he says, they bury deep within themselves damaging childhood trauma and its ensuing depressive effects when they become men. This strongly reasoned study starts out with an illustration of the "toxic legacy" that is passed, often for generations, from father to son, with each chapter adding another piece to the complex face. The lucid exposition of ideas is made more vivid through dramatizing. Real uses "composite" cases, so no actual person is depicted except the author himself. One of the most arresting aspects of the book is the autobiographical thread that he weaves throughout. Real's central concern is what he calls covert depression, a pain-filled, inchoate state that may or may not eventually erupt into overt depression. The book is wise beyond its stated scope: in setting up a model for the nature, etiology and treatment of male depression, Real ends up offering-with some gender variants-an almost universal paradigm. BOMC, QPB and One Spirit alternates. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Real, a psychologist with 20 years of experience treating men and their families, begins with a poignant scene of his father starting to open up and share the pain of his life. From there, Real unravels the buried feelings men have and how these feelings can lead to estrangement from self and family. The wounded boy grows to be a wounding man, inflicting on those closest to him the very distresses he refuses to acknowledge in himself. Real discusses the relation of depression to addictive behaviors, not only drug or alcohol abuse but also workaholism, gambling, and other compulsions. The cure is in confronting the addictive defenses and allowing the hidden pain to emerge. Throughout, Real gives examples of men who discover cruel, shocking traumas from childhood and their adult depression by undergoing guided imagery, talking in a group of similarly depressed men, or discussing the trauma in family counseling. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries as well as professional counseling collections.-Susan E. Burdick, MLS, Reading, Pa.
Kirkus Reviews
An absorbing and informative look at the hidden long-term depression that constricts or undermines the relationships of many American men.

Real, a family therapist and teacher at the Cambridge (Mass.) Family Institute, contends that most male depression is undiagnosed because it is veiled by addictive and compulsive behavior using such varied "drugs" as alcohol, work, violence, and sex. Its key symptom is "relational immaturity," an inability or unwillingness to truly confide in and be vulnerable before a partner or child. Real traces this problem in part to the gender-polarized socialization of American children. From an early age, boys are encouraged to seek esteem through "hierarchical competition" while being discouraged from expressing feelings and bonding with others. In addition, boys sometimes "carry" the depression suffered by their fathers and expressed through emotional abuse or neglect. Much of Real's argument has been made by other clinical and popular psychologists, but he states his case particularly vividly, drawing richly on his own family history, his clinical practice, myth and legend, film and fiction. He also offers advice and case studies on how the therapist might resolve depression by helping patients overcome their fear of intimacy and redefine their notion of success. He also recounts active therapeutic interventions to stop the kind of toxic family dynamics that a husband's depression can help generate. On the downside, Real overfocuses on the father-son relationship; there is too little here on how depressed or narcissistic mothers may contribute to long-term male depression, much less on how siblings or societal factors may do so. Stylistically, it is somewhat marred by repetition, and the occasional use of a clumsy phrase ("rageaholism") or hyperbolic generalization, such as a reference to "the state of alienation we call manhood."

Fortunately, such lapses are a minor part of what otherwise is an important and rewarding work.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684831022
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 1/1/1997
  • Pages: 383
  • Product dimensions: 6.53 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.19 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2001

    a book to talk about!

    This book sheds light on an lot of male pain and ensuiing behaviour of selfmedication through various kinds of addictive or selfaggrandising behaviour. It dispels the notion that it is this pain that should be the target of initial therapy however. Without treating the additive behavior which is created to keep the pain at bay, no real progress can be made. Waht makes the book so touching and not patronising as many books on depression can be, is the fact that the author generously shares with us his own pain and journey to recovery. This along with the touching case studies makes for a moving book which will impart a lot of insight.

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