Over the last week, we have been privileged to see the APA's Practice Guidelines for Boys and Men. These are from August, 2018. The point is to guide psychologists in their practice for male patients.
Please note that I might not be so popular after writing what I am about to write.
I have glanced through the practice guidelines. We can all see what is there. Let us explore what is not there.
1. The guidelines raise concerns about language. Below is a quotation:
"Normative male interpersonal behavior can, but does not always, involve an absence of strong affect, muted emotional displays, and minimal use of expressive language, making it difficult for primary care physicians and other health professionals to determine when men are actually experiencing depressive disorders."
I want to focus on expressive language. When my kids were babies, I was often out with them in the stroller. If nothing else, my kids heard a running narrative about where we were, what direction we were pointed, the bus going by, or whatever else was happening. There was no way that there would have been a phone in my hand, with me reading the news or texting away. Babies are alone with their parents these days. How is it possible to develop expressive language when no one talks to you at the time you are supposed to learn language? Why do the Guidelines not mention this?
2. As long as we are dealing with language, the development of text-speak cannot be helpful. UR GR8 (you are great) is not actual language.
3. The Guidelines mention nothing about social media. Social media is a danger zone for cyber-bullying, both as a victim and as a perpetrator.
4. My iPad is kind enough to tell me how much screen time I take each week. Screen time is an issue. From Psychology Today:
"as a practitioner, I observe that many of the children I see suffer from sensory overload, lack of restorative sleep, and a hyperaroused nervous system, regardless of diagnosis—what I call electronic screen syndrome. These children are impulsive, moody, and can’t pay attention—"
For the Guidelines to mention ADHD and fail to mention screen time neglects a known cause of the issue presented.
5. Yahoo reports that in 2018, 50% of Canadian web searches were for pornography. The following is from Guideline #3:
Thus, male privilege often comes with a cost in the form of adherence to sexist ideologies designed to maintain male power that also restrict men’s ability to function adaptively.
If half of Canadian web searches are connected to porn, and if porn is related to power, why does pornography not receive any attention in the Guidelines from the APA?
*And on an aside, it is highly unlikely that only men searched for pornography.
6. We must also consider that the issues might not be connected only to how men define masculinity. It might be connected to women as well? Really? Well....let us examine some titles of articles. "9 Steamy Shower Sex Positions that Actually Work," "13 Stupidly-Satisfying Things All Women Want in Bed," "5 Wild Sex Positions to Spice Up Even the Most Boring Bedroom" - these three articles are a small sampling of the titles in Cosmopolitan, a magazine that labels itself as "the best-selling young women's magazine in the U.S., a bible for fun, fearless females that reaches more than 17 million readers a month." It is always at the supermarket checkout. There is always an article about "ways to blow his mind" or something like that on the front cover of every edition. GQ, a magazine for men, has nothing like this. With due respect to all, it is simply not possible for men to see Cosmo time and again and not be affected by it. It should be impossible for the APA to consider how men view sex without considering how a popular women's magazine portrays it. I would likely have little problem with my sons reading GQ, certainly in its current form. There is something in every edition of Cosmo that I do not want my sons or my daughter to see, and it is usually on the cover.
Most of what I have written also affects women. The APA is remarkably disingenuous and sexist to both men and women in putting out these guidelines, stating that they will be updated in 10 years, but not doing the same for women. The guidelines for women are now 12 years old. They were supposed to expire in 2015. Where are the new guidelines?
My friends, it is possible that men have all matter of problems. For the APA to put these Guidelines and to lead practitioners away from some crucial concepts that have an impact on much of what is presented therein is not a recipe for therapeutic success.
Have a good evening.