I’ve known Michael Gurian for more than thirty years. We met at one of the early men’s gatherings in 1990 and I’ve gotten to know him quite well over the years. He is one of the world’s foremost gender experts and has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, schools, corporations, and public policy. He’s also a prolific writer. He is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-two books published in twenty-three languages.
After reading most of his books including The Wonder of Boys, The Wonder of Girls, What Could He Be Thinking, and How Do I Help Him? I thought I knew most everything there was to know about Michael’s views on males, sex, gender, and healing. But I was wrong. In his most recent book, The Stone Boys, he offers new insights into the world of boys and men and shares personal experiences about his own life that I had never known before.
He also addresses, what I believe to be, the two most important issues facing males today: The sexual abuse that most of us have experienced growing up and our fear of sharing the truth about our traumatic past with those who love us and could help us. In the introduction to The Stone Boys author Terry Trueman says, “Michael is a sexual abuse survivor, and the power of this story grows from his own experiences as a boy.” He also reveals why it took Michael 40 years to write this book.
Before I can tell you about the book, I have to be honest about how difficult it was for me to get into the book. The early scenes reminded me of my own early life. I remembered how I was teased by older boys, taunted, and threatened with sexual abuse. I still remember being cornered in the boy’s bathroom in junior high school. Two of the boys grabbed me. The third taunted me. “Hey, Diamond, you want a blow job?” I was terrified and tried to break free and escape. “I’m going to give you a blow job,” the boy holding me said as he unzipped his pants. “I’m going to stick my dick in your mouth and blow out your brains.” Luckily, I was saved when the bell rang for next period and a teacher yelled for everyone to get back to class.
I also remembered the enemas my mother insisted I needed to cure my constipation when I was six years old and she and our neighbor Louella holding me by the feet while my mother pushed the nozzle up my rectum. I think my mother was genuinely trying to help with a “problem” she thought needed attention. Louella seemed to get a sadistic pleasure from the enemas. She would look at me in a way that chilled my bones saying, “You told that in you until I tell you to get on the toilet and let it out. If you shit on me, I’ll kill you.”
Since we rarely talk about male sexual abuse, it remains hidden to most of us. From my own personal experience and talking to men over the last fifty years as a therapist, I believe that male sexual abuse is much more common than anyone recognizes. Yet, since we don’t talk about it, we never confront the questions most abuse survivors have. What really happened? Was it my fault? Does it mean there’s something wrong with me? Was what I experienced really sexual abuse? Will I ever be normal? Would you still want to stay with me if you knew the truth? Am I messed up for life?
In his book, The Stone Boys, Michael answers the questions many of us have buried deep inside our psyches, afraid to even let them come to the surface of our awareness for fear that the truth would destroy us. But Michael’s courage, provides a beacon of light for all boys and men, whether we’ve experienced sexual abuse or just the abuse we’ve come to accept as normal, growing up in a world full of secrets and hidden dysfunction.
I asked Michael why he wrote the book. “As a person in the psychological professions—a marriage and family counselor—I have long hypothesized that the moment we are aware of a traumatic experience in our own lives, we have the unconscious will to write it, color, or paint it, express it in music or in woodworking or knitting or any craft or art.”
“I agree,” I told him. “People have often asked me, why I write so personally about my own wounds and traumas. I definitely have a need to turn the pain into art in order for me to understand it and heal it. I know you have focused a lot of your work on the way our brains can heal. How do you think that works with sexual abuse?
“Our brains, I think, are driven to bring the wound into the open,” Michael says, “to shape it, study it, judge it, put it away again, bring it back again, do war with it, make peace with it. We want to make the wound into gold.”
And that’s what you’ll receive when you read this powerful, life-changing, book. It is pure gold. You might be wondering why you might want to read a book about sexual abuse, even it is written by a well-known writer who is an expert in men’s health? The truth is the book is really an adventure story– one that adults and teens will enjoy reading. The main themes are about friendship, coming of age, sexual awakening, and how we can all embrace life and turn the traumas of growing up into the gifts of a life well-lived.
Not everyone will have the hunger and courage to read this book. But those who do will be richly rewarded. If you are a boy or a man or if you love and care about boys and men, I suggest you check out Michael Gurian’s The Stone Boys (You may be surprised as I was at the origin of the title).
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