Dr. Helen

Activists, Not Healers: Why I Despise What My Profession Has Become

I am a psychologist. I used to be proud to say this when people asked what I did for a living. Now, when asked, I say I am a writer. The psychology profession is nothing but a bunch of politically correct social justice warriors looking for their next set of victims. The APA (American Psychological Association) has been sinking for the past twenty years (or more) in terms of ethics but now they have sunk to a new low. According to this article at National Review, traditional masculinity is now in their sights:

We are in the middle of an intense culture war focused around men, dominated at times by two kinds of men-as-victim narratives. On the populist right, you’ll get those voices — such as Tucker Carlson — who see these trends and rightly decry them, but then wrongly ascribe an immense share of the negative results of immense social, economic, and cultural changes to the malice or indifference of elites, with solutions wrongly centered around government action.

Carlson has triggered a critical debate on the right, but then — just in time to remind us that well-meaning people from all sides of the political spectrum can propose solutions worse than the disease — along comes the American Psychological Association with its first-ever “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men.” The APA sees the challenges facing young men and rightly seeks to overcome those challenges, but then diagnoses the wrong cause. As Stephanie Pappas notes on the APA website, the new guidelines conclude that “traditional masculinity — marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression — is, on the whole, harmful.”

The guidelines themselves argue that “traditional masculinity ideology” — defined as socializing boys toward “anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence” — has been shown to “limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict,” and negatively influence mental and physical health.

Yet as we survey a culture that is rapidly attempting to enforce norms hostile to traditional masculinity, are men flourishing? And if men are struggling more the farther we move from those traditional norms, is the answer to continue denying and suppressing a boy’s essential nature? Male children are falling behind in school not because schools indulge their risk-taking and adventurousness but often because they relentlessly suppress boys and sometimes punish boys’ essential nature, from the opening bell to the close of the day. Especially in fatherless homes, female-dominated elementary-school experiences often mean that boys are exposed to few — if any — male role models, and male restlessness is threfore viewed almost entirely as a problem to be solved rather than a potential asset to be shaped.

I agree. Masculinity is not a problem to overcome, it is an asset to be encouraged and valued. Boys and men often use violence inappropriately not because they are socialized to be men but because Dad is absent or not able or willing to wrestle and play and teach the boundaries of physical aggression. The schools exacerbate the problem by keeping boys penned up and emasculated while telling them they are rapists and/or violent. Men have no place in a culture whose slogan since the 1970s has been “The future is female.”

When all around most men is a female-dominated culture in which they are dealing with pain and intolerance yet told that they are privileged, aggressive and violent, then it’s no wonder some men get depressed or angry. Add to that places like the APA and the universities that churn out misandric social justice warriors (mainly women but the men can be worse) and you have a recipe for suicide and violence among those who are mentally unstable.

It’s sad and troubling to say the least that the psychology profession is of so little help to men. What used to be a profession of healers is now a group of activists who sacrifice the lives of men for the cheap thrill of feeling that they themselves are good people. Here’s a tip: you’re not. A good person would put the needs of their clients first, male or female, and work to heal, not harm those who need their unbiased care.