Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 6 Issue 5 (December 1996), Pages fmi-fmi, i-i, 311-414

Mapping Men's Mental Health (pages 317-327)


The central theme of this paper is that men are at one and the same time both damaged and damage‐doing. The process of being damaged through the agency of masculinity predisposes men to exploit, dominate and abuse—not only as boys, as partners and fathers, but as priests, teachers, therapists, lawyers, nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists. Mental health services need to see both aspects of this male equation: a focus on male abuse alone leads to punishment, containment and, very likely, the continuation of abuse; a focus on male damagedness alone preserves the ideology of male unaccountability. However, evidence reviewed here suggests that most traditional psychiatric services fail to acknowledge the impact of inequalities on men's mental health as comprehensively as they fail to acknowledge the impact of these inequalities on the mental health of women. This is a significant problem, and we suggest ways that a gendered analysis of masculinity can be used to help address this deficit. This analysis is used to develop a map of men's mental health that not only accommodates traditional categories of mental health difficulty, but other important consequences of the close association between masculinity and sexuality inequality, especially the use of violence and the capacity to do harm. This analytical framework also invites consideration of the invisibility of male distress, the disallowing and desensitizing of ‘vulnerability, and their submersion in a kind of psychology of entitlement. Finally, we consider the implications of this mapping exercise for mental health services and for working with men.

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