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The Theory of Male Psychosocial Development

October 17, 2010
by Dan Griffin
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The most important point about understanding the foundation of our theory of male psychosocial development is that it is rooted in a feminist paradigm and relational cultural theory. That means while exploring traditional psychological impacts we also believe that we have to look at how male psychological development and socialization is fundamentally at odds with how girls and women are raised and viewed in our society. Further, while a few people are talking about men’s relationships and relational competencies we focused on that as essential to providing effective treatment and helping men achieve long-term quality recovery. After all, when would a man not be in a relationship? I will be discussing each of these components in separate entries.

Now, let’s get the whole potential controversy of the word “feminist” out of the way. There are many types of feminism and, without going into a long exposition of them, suffice it to say that we simply mean that there is a fundamental acceptance of the innate equality of women and men. This, of course, is not a radical idea by any means. However, accompanying this assertion is the expectation that men (and women) will look at all of the beliefs and behaviors that we have that perpetuate sexist ideas, behavior, and policies. Further, addressing these issues in men’s services from the very beginning is essential. Yet, how many men want to talk about these issues? How many men feel as though they are being persecuted by any conversation about feminism and sexism? Yet, if men do not work through the various conflicting messages we have received about women it will be difficult for us to create meaningful relationship with women and men. A device that we have found to be very effective has been asking the men to teach us on the more difficult topics. In other words, the men give the lecture. It is amazing how much men know and feel about the topics and are able to discuss when they do not fgeel defensive, attacked, or shameful.

Ultimately the question for a man is: Does how you treat women/talk about women/ think about women reflect the man you want to be?



Hi Anne - thanks for your comment (as a fellow AP blogger). The reality is that until now gender responsive was really only female-responsive and we are finally coming to realize that we have to look at both women and men's needs in the context of their socialization. What is even more gratifying to me is that there is a much larger movement afoot - being led by men - to help us negotiate the incredible changes in expectations that we have experienced in the past three generations. In the past - somewhat due to women's understandable anger - the conversation was more of an attack by women about men and our role. We are finally getting to a place where both sexes can have honest, compassionate, and realistic conversations about what needs to happen for us to continue to evolve into more loving and healthy relationships.

Thank you for posting this topic. As a professor of addiction studies, I hear comments on this topic among students. Those of us who teach also are very aware that there are far more women in the addiction counseling profession than there are men. It is a balancing act to encourage appreciation and acceptance of both male and female approaches to recovery. The October 24 issue of the NY Times Magazine included an article titled "Calling Mr. Mom?" Why women won't have it all until men do too." This article brought up many points on both sides of male versus women's issues that need consideration. We still have a long way to go and the suggestions in the blog are helpful.

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin, MA, is an internationally recognized author and thought leader on...

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