We are living in a world out of balance. One clear indicator is our global climate crisis. Another is the violence going on in the world, perpetrated mostly by men. I have been working for more than fifty years to address male violence, directed inward in the form of depression and suicide, and outward in the form of aggression and violence. Our Moonshot for Mankind, is a world-wide community, dedicated to healing the trauma at the root of male violence. It is now available for charter membership. I hope you’ll consider joining us at MoonShotForMankind.com.
Sometimes the most important truths come from those who can see the humor in the challenges we face. Elayne Boosler is an American comedian, writer and actor. She was one of the few women working in stand-up comedy in the 1970s and 80s and she broke ground with frank discussions about her life as a single woman, as well as political commentary. She said,
“When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It’s a whole different way of thinking.”
I have been dealing with depression my whole life. When I was five years old, my father became increasingly depressed because he couldn’t support his family. He took an overdose of drugs. Though he didn’t die, our lives were never the same. I grew up wondering what happened to my father, whether it would happen to me, and how I could keep it from happened to other families.
I’ve written seventeen books addressing various aspects of men’s health including international best-sellers, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Surviving Male Menopause, and The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression. My latest book, Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope for Humanity, will be published in November, 2022 and available first to charter members of the Moonshot for Mankind Community.
According to the World Report on Violence and Health published by the World Health Organization (WHO),
“Violence is a universal scourge that tears at the fabric of communities and threatens the life, health and happiness of us all.”
The report examined three major types of violence—homicide, suicide, and war—and concludes that violence is a predominantly male problem since males perpetrate most of the violence and are also the predominate victims.
What causes male violence? Though the causes are complex, the root causes are related to shame. James Gilligan, MD, is one of the world’s leading experts on violence. In his book, Violence: Our Deadly Epidemic and Its Causes, he says,
“I have yet to see a serious act of violence that was not provoked by the experience of feeling shamed and humiliated, disrespected and ridiculed.”
Gilligan goes on to say that
“The emotional of shame is the primary or ultimate cause of all violence, whether toward others or toward the self.”
Shame and trauma are implicated in violence as well as other health issues.
Trauma: The Root Cause of Violence and Other Personal and Societal Ills
In his book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture, Gabor Maté, MD masterfully describes the roots of his own anger and violence as an adult and relates it to the first years of his life in wartime and post-World War II Budapest. In the first chapter of the book titled, “The Last Place You Want to Be: Facets of Trauma,” he shares his mother’s diary and this entry on April 8, 1945, when Gabor was fourteen months old:
We can only imagine the trauma of the war, the fear, the death, and the separation from mother and family at such an early age. But these wounds can last a lifetime and impact our adult lives. We now have a better understanding of the rage and anger the seventy-one-year-old Gabor had when he exploded on his wife when she couldn’t pick him up at the airport (an incident he recounts at the beginning of the first chapter). We also understand the impact that past trauma has on all families. F
Gabor opens his heart in the book and is totally and honest and vulnerable about how the traumas of his early life affected his adult emotions and behavior.
“I was in my mid-forties, outwardly a successful physician and columnist. Yet who was I within myself and within the four-walled world of our home? A depressed, anxious, psychologically underdeveloped man, years away from addressing his core wounds; a man whose family bore the burden of his dysfunctional, erratic, and emotionally hostile behaviors; a man whose workaholism took the form at home of physical and emotional absence, even negligence; a man addicted to his own internal drama, not knowing how to be responsible for his actions and mind states or their impacts on his family, least of all his child-to-be.”
I recognized a similar pattern in my own life and wrote about it in The Irritable Male Syndrome and other books and articles. In my forthcoming book, Long Live Men! I say,
“Trauma is not what you think. When most of us think of trauma, we think of extreme situations—soldiers facing extreme stress in battle, children being sexually abused, or an adult being raped. We don’t think of trauma as the more subtle and common events that occur in most of our lives as we are growing up.”
Types of Trauma and Our Moonshot for Mankind Community
Dr. Maté describes two types of trauma.
“The first involves automatic responses and mind-body adaptations to specific, identifiable hurtful and overwhelming events, whether in childhood or later. As my medical work taught me and as research has amply shown, painful things happen to many children, from outright abuse or severed neglect in the family of origin to poverty or racism or oppression that are daily features of many societies.”
The second type sometimes termed “small-t trauma,” Dr. Maté says are nearly universal in our culture.
“I have often witnessed what long-lasting marks impact seemingly ordinary events—what a seminal researcher poignantly called the ‘less memorable but hurtful and far more prevalent misfortunes of childhood,’—can leave on the psyches of children. These might include bullying by peers, the casual but repeated harsh comments of a well-meaning parent, or even just a lack of sufficient emotional connection with the nurturing adults.”
I would add a third type that impacts everyone. I call it the “existential trauma” we all feel living in a world culture where human existence, as a whole, is threatened. Some call this culture “civilization.” Others call it the “patriarchy.” I follow historian, Riane Eisler’s description as the “dominator system.”
Trauma specialize Peter Levine says,
“trauma is about a loss of connection—to ourselves, our families, and the world around us. This loss is hard to recognize, because it happens slowly, over time. We adapt to these subtle changes; sometimes without noticing them.”
The purpose of our Moonshot for Mankind Community is to help everyone notice and take action. It brings together individuals and organization who recognize the healing men as a necessary step in healing the world. I hope you’ll check out the community and consider joining here.
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