I return now to the APA’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice for Men and Boys. I’ve already done a couple of pieces on them and much, much has been written elsewhere, almost none of it complimentary. But Quillette’s effort to address the Guidelines can’t go unmentioned (Quillette, 2/4/19). It’s perhaps the last word on what should be the end of the Guidelines.
Why discuss the Guidelines on a blog that deals with family court reform? Because the same biases already evident in family courts are reiterated in the Guidelines. They both promote and exacerbate all the anti-male tendencies that are so common in judges’ rulings on child custody and parenting time. Worse, as a product of the APA, they may well be used by mental health professionals who advise judges on those issues. If masculinity is accepted by them and by judges as “toxic,” what hope can there be for fathers seeking meaningful time with their children?
Quillette asked 12 scholars to comment on the Guidelines. The results are devastating. After this, the Guidelines should be scrapped altogether. No mental health professional should use them for any reason and certainly not to address the problems of men or boys in a therapeutic setting.
So the 12 mental health professionals and academics who comment in Quillette use words that leave no doubt about how roundly they condemn the Guidelines. So descriptors like “lack a strong scientific base,” “embarrassment,” “abdication of scientific responsibility,” “denying biological and evolutionary realities,” “lacks construct validity,” “violate… ethical standards,” “unscientific, unprofessional, immoral,” “risk subverting the therapeutic enterprise altogether,” “an ideological agenda,” and “will have zero effect” pepper the remarks of the 12 Quillette contributors.
Those are hardly pulled punches. They aren’t words we often hear in the context of academic discourse. They’re the words of outraged professionals who see their discipline being hijacked by a few practitioners to serve ends that bear little resemblance to what psychology is supposedly about – helping those with emotional/psychological problems solve them. Indeed, as I’ve said before, no man or boy who falls under the sway of a psychologist wielding the Guidelines will exit the experience anything but further scarred.
So professor of psychology, W. Keith Campbell asks a pithy question:
What kind of society do you get when masculine values are centered on emotional self-focus rather than stoicism; cooperativeness rather than competitiveness; submissiveness rather than dominance; and kindness rather than aggression? Would men be happier and healthier in such a society?Hmm, good question. So how might we answer it?
Well, given how bad traditional masculinity is, reversed masculinity should be flourishing in other cultures. Oddly, the APA doesn’t offer any examples.That of course isn’t the least bit odd because there are no such examples. Campbell’s point is clear: the process of natural selection would require that a healthier, more productive mode of being for half the human population must prevail over “traditional masculinity,” if it were as dysfunctional as described and reviled by the APA. The fact that no such thing has ever happened in human history and certainly doesn’t exist now demolishes the theory that a generally better form of masculinity is available for us to choose.
Campbell takes the matter one step further though and points out how traditional masculinity, with its emphasis on stoicism, hard work, etc. actually creates safe spaces for other types of masculinity to thrive.
The closest you find to the flipped masculinity script are peace-focused masculine cultures that exist as protected subcultures in larger liberal cultures (e.g., India currently protects Tibetan spiritual culture—explicitly nonviolent groups like the Jains, etc.). Without this protection, peaceful groups get killed off… No traditionally masculine men at the border means no men of peace in the nation.It’s a trenchant observation. We all need to thank whatever gods may be for traditional masculinity, because without it, the rest of us would have life much harder and more dangerous than we do. And, we don’t need to travel to India to find an example of peaceful sub-cultures that depend on traditional masculinity for their very existence. Right here in the good old U.S.A. countless people, men and women alike, are free to pursue lifestyles, careers, hobbies, religions, etc. solely because traditional masculinity makes all that, and so much more, possible.
The same has held true for essentially all of human history. Historian Ian Morris makes that exact point about the Roman Empire that repeatedly conquered peoples who soon found their lives made easier, safer and more prosperous due to the quintessentially traditional masculinity of Rome and her legions.
Campbell’s point should never be forgotten. Masculine strength, masculine will, masculine stoicism, masculine ambition have, over the millennia made everyday human life far, far better than it has ever been. Every attack on traditional masculinity is an attack on our own well-being and that of our children and our children’s children.
Is that really the road we want to travel with only ill-informed ideologues for our guides?