Men’s biological clock and IQ: much ado about nothing
“The men are getting really angry and the women are a little too gleeful,” wrote New York Times columnist Lisa Belkin commenting on the overwhelming response she got for an article on a new study that found that men, too, may have a “biological clock” ticking when it comes to having what biologists would call “high quality” offspring.
The headlines reporting the study make ominous pronouncements along the lines of “Older fathers may mean lower IQs in their children,” a conclusion that brings Belkin so far as “[to] hope that somehow it equalizes relationships of sexes.” Couples all over the world are reacting to the news the best they can. CNN reporter Jason Carroll quotes a couple in their late ‘30s saying “We’re having our first. If he is a little less intelligent maybe the world doesn’t need smarter people, doesn’t need more gifted people just deeper people. So hopefully he will be a deep person.” (Hmm, what does it mean to be “deep”? And where is the evidence that the world doesn’t need smarter people?) To this add the predictable commentary of experts like Dr. Harry Fisch (a professor of urology, quoted by CNN), who — while cautioning that the 33,000 children analyzed in the study are of age 7 and below — said that “what we’re seeing are real indications, we’re seeing real clues that as men get older there are problems.”
Oh really? To begin with, it turns out that the Australian study found a difference of only 6 points between children fathered by men in their ‘20s and those in their ‘50s. Moreover, when reading the not-so-fine print of the papers, one finds out that the difference dropped to a miserly 2 points as soon as socioeconomic factors where accounted for. Not exactly an earth shattering discovery, even if one were to think of IQ as a fixed measure of genetic potential. But of course IQ is anything but.
IQ testing was invented by the French psychologist Alfred Binet, originally with the intention of identifying children who may be encountering difficulties during their early education so that they could be given special attention. Of course, the test was soon used for all sorts of bizarre discriminatory practices, particularly against (legal) immigrants in the United States, as detailed in Stephen Gould’sThe Mismeasure of Man (e.g., the tests were given in English to people who did not speak English, to “prove” that non-Anglo-Saxon immigrants were clearly stupid and should be kept out of the country).
Even though cognitive scientists are still not quite sure what exactly IQ measures, it is of course a quantitative assessment of somecognitive ability. As with any human trait, a component of it is “heritable” (meaning that there is a statistical covariance between parents and offsprings in terms of their respective IQ — this is far from the everyday meaning of the term heritability, we are not talking about a simple-minded concept of “intelligent genes”).
However, Richard Lewontin, in a classic paper published in 1974 (“The analysis of variance and the analysis of causes,” American Journal of Human Genetics, 26:400-411) has shown that the relationship between genetic and environmental effects in shaping IQ and similar traits in humans is exceedingly complex. Indeed, according to Lewontin, sampling a population with a different genetic constitution would dramatically alter the degree to which IQ responds to altered environmental (e.g., educational, socioeconomic) conditions, while changing the environment would paradoxically result in a different estimate of the supposedly genetically fixed quantity of “heritability” (for technical reasons that I cannot go into here, but see my book: Phenotypic Plasticity: Beyond Nature and Nurture. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press). Bottom line: estimates of IQ and its heritability in humans come with a high degree of uncertainty (much, much more than 2 points!) and change dramatically as a function of the environment.
How dramatic? A classic study by Cooper and Zubek in rats (“Effects of enriched and restricted early environments on the learning ability of bright and dull rats,” Canadian Journal of Psychology, 12(3):159-164, 1958) used two genetically selected lines that were respectively very good and very bad at solving maze problems. The authors then raised both “dull” and “bright” rats in very stimulating environments (cages enhanced by color and toys) and in very depressing ones (cages with no color or toys) and compared them again. The results were rather stunning: the environment had completely erased the genetically selected differences between the two lines: dull rats performed as well as the bright ones if grown in stimulating environmental conditions, and vice versa the bright rats did as poorly as the dull ones under deprived conditions. Conclusion: very strong, genetically “determined” differences in intelligence can be erased by a simple change in the environment. Alas, we can’t do the experiment with humans, for obvious logistical and ethical reasons. But there is no rationale to think that we would react much differently, at least qualitatively.
Given all of the above — about which of course you will find not a trace in either the CNN or the New York Times articles covering the aging fathers story — what is the import of an alleged difference of 2 points in the IQ of young children fathered by 20-somethings vs. 50-somethings? To put it bluntly, that difference is in fact completely insignificant (sorry, ladies), and there is no reason for anyone to lose any sleep over this, or worse, for men to rush into having babies in order to keep up their children’s chances of getting into Harvard. Besides, we all know that men aren’t very emotionally mature until they get into their 30’s, so why would a woman wish to have a child with someone who is still himself a baby? Now, there is something that requires serious study.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Masculine Psychology - Testosterone Deficiency: The Hidden Disease: A major Health Issue for Every Woman - Every Man
Length-1 hour, 13 minutes, 46 seconds
Dr. Kevin Keough, host of The North Star Guardians and the Psychjourney podcast, interviews Dr. Barry Gordon, author of Testosterone Deficiency: The Hidden Disease: A major Health Issue for Every Woman-Every Man published by iUniverse, Inc.
Dr. Barry Gordon received his M.D. degree from the Chicago Medical School in 1965. He completed his training in Internal Medicine at the Jewish Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn in 1968, and in Hematology at the Montefiore Hospital Medical Center in the Bronx in 1969. Dr. Gordon has served as Chief of Hematology at two Brooklyn hospitals, and has been on the teaching staff of the Downstate Medical School (SUNY Health and Science Center at Brooklyn) as a Clinical Instructor in Medicine. Most of Dr. Gordon's career has been devoted to his Internal Medicine / Primary Care practice in Brooklyn which he continues to maintain. He is the author of, Get Well, Stay Well. Visit his website.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
One exercise per body part, no arms or isolation exercise, just the big stuff.
Day 1: squats, one arm rows, DB or barbell chest press, chins, abs
Day 2: romanian deadlifts, dips, chins, military press, calves
Day 3: step ups (or lunges), DB or barbell incline chest press, bent rows, DB shoulder press, abs
M/W/F split, cardio or sports on off days.
Three 4-week cycles:
3 sets of 8-12 reps for 4 weeks.
4 sets of 6-8 reps for 4 weeks.
6 sets of 3-5 reps for 4 weeks.
Eat well (protein, healthy fats, veggies, complex carbs), get 8 hrs sleep and you'll be bigger and stronger by the end of the 12 week cycle.
The New Man Episode 64: Vernon Reid - Open Your Mind to What Matters
Vernon Reid - Opening Your Mind to What Matters
Not many guitarists come close to having Vernon Reid’s resume:
- Grammy Winner
- Platinum Selling Artist
- Complete badass virtuoso in jazz, funk, r&b, metal, punk, etc.
- Shared the stage and studio with Carlos Santana, The Rolling Stones, Public Enemy, etc.
He’s a chameleon, but how does he escape categorization or the limiting beliefs that restrain so many people? Where does he find “the juice”? And how is playing with the Stones just as exciting as having his lost wallet returned?
Listen to this lively discussion where Vernon discusses having an open mind, finding your own voice, using mortality as inspiration and finding the "wild" moments in your everyday life.
In this episode:
- Avoiding categorization -- being put into a box
- Keeping the focus on what you love
- Marching to the beat of your own drum
- Anthrax vs Burt Bacharach
- Music is about diving into the human experience
- Unique expression of “their moment”
- Learning how to listen to music
- Listen without judging
- James Brown
- The Beatles
- The Rolling Stones
- Dave Clark 5
- Sly Stone
- Jimi Hendrix
- Carlos Santana
- Frank Zappa
- Music that black people listen to vs what white people listen to
- Disclipline and practicing
- At first playing was awful, frustrating
- Little breakthroughs lead to big breakthroughs
- Learning how to be with frustration
- As a father seeing disclipline in younger generations
- Instant gratification vs hard work
- Trying to remove risk from the equation of life
- “Inside of your struggle is your sound”
- Comfort and convenience can take away from your voice
- Avoiding and distracting ourselves from mortality
- Using mortality and frustration to live the moment
- People want to avoid what sucks
- Shortcuts mean no individuality
- Great people all struggled
- Finding your voice without fixing it or perfecting it
- Jeff Beck shows us how to be ourselves
- The Edge from U2
- Henry Rollins hates U2
- Johnny Marr, The Smiths “How Soon is Now”
- Walter Becker from Steely Dan
- Having your own sound/voice is more important than technique
- Realizing your own voice
- Ronald Shannon Jackson
- Fusion -- Jazz and Rock
- Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin & Robert Fripp (King Crimson)
- The Decoding Society
- The Who “I hope I die before I get old”
- Older men still in “the young man’s” game of rock
- The importance of living in the moment and projecting yourself into the future
- Being fascinated with young people - prettiest, sexual peak
- The only constant is change vs The more the things change, the more they stay the same
- Science Fiction and his fascination with gear
- Forbidden Planet & The Day the Earth Stood Still
- Where’s my Jet Pack?
- The future was supposed to be dope
- I want my hovering skateboard
- The sexual culture is buckwild
- How does life measure up to your dreams?
- Having his wallet returned just as big as playing with The Rolling Stones
- Hearing his daughter read
- The “little stuff” is massive
- It’s about the wild moments
- We’re bored with life
- Elephants are bad motherfuckers
- We overlook the familiar
- The quotidian things mean a lot
- Mortality makes us live more
- Being inspired by the people in our lives
- The overemphasis of being results oriented
- The danger of losing “the journey”
- All the girls you ever slept with are going to pass away
- We’re only here for a little while
- George Carlin
- The planet is going to be fine
- Really taste this moment in life
- A last time for everything
- Your last orgasm
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Recently Bill Harryman blogged about chapter two in David Deida’s book Way of The Superior Man titled “Live with an open heart, even if it hurts.” When I first read this years ago I thought to myself, “Are you nuts?”Go read the post.
Living with your heart open is a rich, unexplored part of the path for most men. Many men keep their heart closed their whole life, never opening up even to their spouse or intimate partner.
I was that guy until about age 30—walking around with a puffed out chest and a closed heart. At the same time was heart was closed, I longed for a deep connection. Little did I know that it was up to me to make the first move.
So, why bother opening my heart?
First, let’s ask it this way; why not open your heart? Ask yourself “what is the worst thing that can happen?” It gets broken? You get hurt again? Many of you already have had a broken heart.
For me, I had a long list of really good reasons why I was not opening up to my girlfriends and why I kept my distance from my male friends. Mostly, I would blame others. “Well, If I knew she was the one, then I would open up to her.”
Believe me, I know it’s painful and it can even sting, but try this on–feeling into your broken heart is the way back to your own aliveness and your freedom.
Then what do I do?
Here are four practices to experiment with opening your heart at home.
Monday, May 25, 2009
On Being Given MuchMay 21, 2009
Editor’s Note: This weekend the United States observes Memorial Day, a day to honor veterans who died for their country. To help get such a weekend off on the right tone, today we have a a guest post from Marcus Brotherton. Mr. Brotherton is the co-author of Call of Duty with Lt. Buck Compton. His newest book, We Who Are Alive and Remain: untold stories from the Band of Brothers, tells the stories of 20 surviving members of Easy Co.
How do you remember what you don’t know? How do you appreciate what you have not experienced?
A few years back I moved to LA to begin a graduate program. All the university’s on-campus housing was filled, so the only room I could find to rent was in the home of my advisor’s father, a World War II veteran named Nate Miller.
Nate’s wife had recently died, so his son thought it might be good for him to have company. Nate had lived in the same bungalow in Buena Park since the war, raised two sons, and enjoyed a quiet life since his days in combat. Other than a smattering of high school history, I knew little about World War II or what its veterans had been through, or about any war’s veterans. I was clueless about what would come next, like nearly anyone of my generation would have been as a veteran’s housemate.
Nate kept a big russet Doberman named Diana that did business all over the front lawn. One day I mentioned to my new landlord that it might be appropriate to have the stuff picked up once in a while. “Aw, that ain’t nothing,” Nate said. “You should see a Kraut’s helmet lying on the ground when its still got his brains in it.”
Underneath his pillow by night or his chair cushion by day Nate kept a loaded pistol. He warned: “If you come home late, make sure you yell so I know it’s you. I might blow a hole in your guts.” Most evenings Nate fell asleep in front of the TV. The only way into the house was through the front door, near the TV. I’d come home and face a dilemma: should I shout and wake the old man, or let him sleep and risk a bullet?
Nate spoke in monologues, often repeating stories. Most were ornery tales suited to the pool halls he frequented. But one story was unlike the others: He was fighting in Hurtgen Forest, late 1944. It was winter, freezing, with blood on the ground and heavy artillery resistance. The forest was so ripped full of lead you couldn’t even cut down a tree for firewood because you’d break your saw, Nate said.
In a lull in the fighting, a group of the world’s toughest soldiers scraped snow from fallen logs, and a chaplain came and spoke to the men. As many times as Nate repeated this story he always ended with the same line: “I seen a lot of fancy churches while in Europe-huge cathedrals-but that was by far the best church I ever went to.”
Nate said it in sincerity, not to disparage cathedrals, but to mark the solemnity of the moment. For all his rough edges, Nate was a reverent man. He loved his country. He loved freedom. There was more to this man than his outer veneer.
A while ago my agent phoned about a book project. Lieutenant Buck Compton, one of the original Band of Brothers, wanted to write his memoirs. I agreed to the project immediately, then in a quieter moment wondered what I had done. All I knew about veterans was from renting a room for one semester from Nate Miller.
As work began on Lieutenant Compton’s book, strangely, I felt that my ignorance brought vitality to the work. Since I didn’t know anything, I needed to ask Buck everything. What’s a Regiment? Why do they award Silver Stars? How does a Thompson differ from an M-1? Buck was ever patient. He’d look at me, sometimes incredulous at the questions I asked, but always willing to explain.
As I worked, I found myself looking at the world differently, through the lens of a veteran.
A new personal determination emerged. If the men of Easy Company could run up and down Mt. Currahee each day-a seven-mile trip-while training at Camp Toccoa, then I could certainly go for my morning jog without complaining as much as usual.
Challenges were seen in a new perspective. In December I went to a car auction and stood for two hours in the snow as each vehicle came to the block. As I stamped my feet to stay warm, I reminded myself I wasn’t fighting in Bastogne with my feet wrapped in burlap bags.
I came to see soldiers as men willing to lay down their lives for the sake of others. They fight for themselves and the generation under immediate attack, but certainly they fight for the futures of free peoples. Decades beyond World War II, I am one who benefited. That I can vote in presidential elections and not bend my knee to Hirohito’s grandson is testament to the enduring work of veterans. That I can write books for a living instead of sweating in a Third Reich factory is a product of Allied triumph.
What is my hope for my generation? As a whole, we’d probably admit casualness in our patriotism. Many view Memorial Day as little more than a good day for a barbecue. But I wish we might glimpse anew the freedom we’ve been handed. I wish we would read books about veterans and watch war movies and talk to veterans and rent rooms from them. I wish we’d pray that future generations will never be called upon to make the same sacrifices as those who gave up everything for the sake of freedom.
And I wish we would live as those who have been given much. That is what I take from soldiers like Nate Miller, Buck Compton, and all the veterans who have fought and died in the name of liberty. They have given much, so that we might live for what matters.
If you enjoyed this post, check out Marcus Brotherton’s new book, We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories from the Band of Brothers:
Sunday, May 24, 2009
In my new book Numen, Old Men: Contemporary Masculine Spiritualities and the Problem of Patriarchy (Equinox Publishing) I take a critical look at men and spirituality. Since the early 1990s there have been various waves of interest in what is often described as "masculine spirituality." While diverse, a commonality among these interests has been a concern that spirituality has become too feminine, and that men's experiences of the spiritual are being marginalized. Masculine spirituality is therefore about promoting what it perceives to be authentic masculine characteristics within a spiritual context.
By examining the nature of these characteristics, Numen, Old Men argues that masculine spirituality is little more than a thinly veiled patriarchal spirituality. The mythopoetic, evangelical, and to a lesser extent Catholic men's movements all promote a patriarchal spirituality by appealing to neo-Jungian archetypes of a combative and oppressive nature, or understanding men's role as biblically ordained leader of the family. Numen, Old Men then examines integral spirituality which aims to honour and transcend both the masculine and feminine, but which privileges the former to the extent where it becomes another masculine spirituality, with all its inherent patriarchal problems. Gay spirituality is then offered as a form of masculine spirituality which to a large degree resists patriarchal tendencies, suggesting a queering of spirituality could be useful for all men, both gay and straight.
In the following edited excerpt I look at how Ken Wilber's brand of integral spirituality plays out in the writings of another author, David Deida, who is a founding member of Integral Institute. Deida is selected not because he develops Wilber's thoughts in any particular way, but because he communicates them in a more distilled fashion, free from the density and scholastic aspirations of Wilber's writing. In a sense, Deida is the "real face" of integral thought. He does not employ any Wilberian theory as such in his books, but he does use notions of masculine and feminine in much the same way. Should anyone be in doubt of his feelings, Deida writes in one essay that Wilber is the most beautiful philosopher of our time who authenticates genius and is glorious in almost every way.
The title of his most popular book says a lot: The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work and Sexual Desire. Wilber's blurb on the back cover, returning the above compliment, says the book is "a guide for the noncastrated male. . . . Few are the books that discuss strong sexuality within strong spirituality, instead of tepid sexuality diluted by a mediocre spiritual stance." The muscular motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, is also quoted on the cover, praising the book for helping men "fulfil their true purpose and to be authentically masculine." Language such as the "noncastrated male," "strong," and "authentically masculine" immediately reminds one of mythopoetic literature, and Deida continues in this vein.
Deida sets up the masculine and feminine as polar in the same way as Wilber and the mythopoets: "sexual attraction is based on sexual polarity, which is the force of passion that arcs between masculine and feminine." Deida claims people with a masculine sexual essence are driven by mission and "unless you discover this deep purpose and live it fully, your life will feel empty to the core." People with a feminine sexual essence, however professionally successful, "won't be fulfilled unless love is flowing fully in your family or intimate life."
Deida makes the appropriate noises about disconnecting sex and gender, noting that the masculine essence can belong to a woman, and vice versa, but he is clearly talking about men, or as Wilber says, "the noncastrated male." Similarly, Deida claims to be starting from a position of respect, where all genders and sexual orientations are treated as equals, moving into a new stage of sexual awareness, rather than reverting back to an old one. But repeatedly Deida makes statements which make it difficult to interpret his thoughts on gender as being anything other than a step backwards, another example of a supposedly integral presentation of gender falling foul of the pre/trans fallacy.
Throughout The Way of the Superior Man Deida repeatedly uses the phrase "your woman" which immediately sends first-tier alarm bells ringing. A significant amount of his claims about the nature of gender would be laughable if they were not so serious, such as "the feminine always seems chaotic and complicated from the perspective of the masculine." But more than this, other passages take on a rather sinister and misogynistic flavour: "for the feminine truth is a thin concept." Elsewhere Deida holds little sympathy with "no means no" campaigns: "what she wants is not what she says."
Deida also sets up a familiar distinction where women are connected with the earth (and, given his polar logic, presumably with men transcending it). Indeed, woman and the earth (world) seem to be synonymous for Deida: "Neither woman nor world are predictable. . . . Neither woman nor world can be second-guessed, or fooled." Deida suggests there are only two ways to deal with woman and world: either renounce sexuality and "the seemingly constant demands of woman and world" or "'fuck' both to smithereens, to ravish them with your love unsheathed."
Despite Deida's impassioned pleas for loving women in all their authentic femininity, the whiff of misogyny continues. Sounding particularly mythopoetic, Deida notes of a man's ability to take criticism, "if he doesn't have a good relationship to masculine energy (e.g., his father), then he will act like a woman and be hurt or defensive." Charging someone with "acting like a woman" hardly honours authentic femininity. Continuing this path, Deida begins to take on the unhinged persona of Tom Cruise's character Frank T. J. Mackey in the movie Magnolia, "You've had tit. You've had pussy. . . . It wasn't even that good, as long as it did last. Your need is far deeper than any woman can provide." It is simply unreasonable to claim, as Deida does, that he starts from a position of respect and gender equality, to then come out with such disrespectful and hostile statements, second-tier or otherwise.
In some less frenzied passages Deida could be mistaken for a Promise Keeper. Earlier we read of Tony Evans's suggesting to his evangelical brothers that they should turn to their wives and say, "Honey, I've made a terrible mistake. I've given you my role. I gave up leading this family, and I forced you to take my place. Now I must reclaim that role." The evangelical call to "servant leadership" was built on the idea that many men have abdicated their role as leader in the family. Deida writes, "If you want your woman to be able to relax into her feminine and shine her natural radiance, then you must relieve her of the necessity to be in charge. This doesn't mean you need to boss her around. It means you need to know where you are heading and how you are going to get there, in every way, including financially and spiritually."
This ability to make decisions (to be the servant leader) is what Deida describes as "the masculine gift." Deida asks us to accept that men making the decisions about money and God is a gift to "your" woman, so she is "able to relax." This is yet another reworking of patriarchy, this time saying, "don't you worry about a thing, let me make the decisions while you enjoy your natural radiance." The "superior man" is evidently an evangelical mythopoetic soft patriarch attempting to pass himself off as a sexual-spiritual radical by saying naughty words like "fuck," "tit" and "pussy."
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I made the title of this article into a question, mostly because I am not sure I buy the premise. But then I live in a town where men still think cowboy boots, buckles, and hats are cool. Maybe I'm not the right person to judge this trend. [More below the article.]
Today's idealized man looks more like the typical, glowing female model we are accustomed to seeing in magazines than the Brawny man.
We've come a long way from the Brawny man, created in 1974 to sell paper towels. With his flannel shirt and crossed arms, he looks like a nonchalant lumberjack. He looks like a real man.
But times have changed (as has the Brawny man) since 1974. Modern male icons idealize a different aspect of the masculine. Take your typical cologne model, for instance -- tan angular face, straight white teeth, and a thick head of dark hair. No flannel shirt for this guy. In fact, he's not wearing much at all, showing off his bare, chiseled abs gleaming like the plastic six-pack on Barbie's boyfriend Ken.
Today's idealized man, dare I say, appears less "brawny" and more beautiful, like the typical glowing female we are accustomed to seeing in magazines. Guys are increasingly feeling the pressure to pay attention to their appearance, and the gap between male and female attentiveness seems to be fast closing. But is it?
Contemporary males and females both feel tremendous pressure to attain an ideal. In a 2007 survey by UCLA researchers, the majority of women and more than one-third of men expressed interest in plastic surgery. In addition, 21 percent of women and 11 percent of men described themselves as unattractive, and 31 percent of women and 16 percent of men reported feeling so uncomfortable in a swimsuit that they avoid wearing one in public.
While men suffer the same scourges of body-envy that women do, they are up against a wall that women don't have to face. As a society, we've grown to expect women to obsess about their bodies. In contrast, we expect flippancy from men. Guys just aren't supposed to care about how they look; they should be retrosexual. Apart from showering, shaving and applying deodorant, grooming rituals for Average Joes are frowned upon. Too much facial hair trimming, cologne-splashing or heaven forbid manicuring takes an ideal man into the realm of the metrosexual -- and beyond.
"In a lot of guys' heads, it is not macho to smell like [crap] and not shower," says Arthur Serer, a student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. "But among most guys, excessive grooming is associated with gayness."
The subject of grooming rituals is so fraught with stigma among men that even discussing it is taboo, particularly with other men. "A lot of guys would not have even agreed to this interview [if it were] with a guy," Serer confided. Indeed, imagine two men sitting over coffee, comparing manicures, hair-color treatments, or waxes in the groin area. Without sounding too naively stereotypical, these conversations just don't typically happen among straight men.
So men are left trying to reconcile a new ideal of attractiveness with old societal expectations regarding masculinity. These attempts, shrouded in secrecy, yield an absurd result that is clearly articulated by C.J. Pascoe in the book Dude, You're A Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School. In essence, "masculinity becomes the carefully crafted appearance of not caring about appearance," Pascoe writes. We see it today as the five-o-clock shadow look made famous by Grey's Anatomy's Patrick Dempsey, which by now has trickled down even to Disney superstar Zac Efron. While scruffy in appearance, the look requires careful grooming. You want to look nonchalant, like the Brawny man. But you don't want to look like you spent a month in the forest.
This pressure paradox creates difficulties for today's men. On the one hand, they face new expectations from women who are now achieving financial independence and are seeking attractive and sensitive, rather than rich and stoic, partners. On the other hand, men also must face their buddies, who may label sensitivity and careful grooming as homosexuality.
Nowhere else is male-to-male homophobia more visible than in American high schools, where young men are still searching for their identities. In high school, the line between stereotypical heterosexual and homosexual behavior is rigid and cannot be crossed. To illustrate this dynamic, Pascoe recounts an anecdote from River High School, located in California. Because male students were so worried about appearing to care about their looks, none would change their clothes after autoshop class, even though they were greasy from working with car parts. In high school, nonchalance rules.
It rules elsewhere, too. Middle-aged men going gray still want to look young and sexy. But they don't want to use hair dye for fear of seeming like they care about looking sexy. To reconcile their dilemma, these men turn to products like "Touch of Gray"' hair dye. The concept is to achieve sexiness in age -- salt and pepper hair without too much salt or pepper.
And how do guys talk about this dilemma?
They don't. They rationalize, keep secrets, and fib. If a man gets his hair trimmed at a hair salon, he certainly doesn't tell his buddies where he's going. Cuts are done at barbershops or no-frills places like "Supercuts," not a salon. If he carefully picks out an outfit each morning, he "will do it on his own" and pretend he threw on random clothes, according to Serer. And if someone does find out about his grooming habits, he may use the ultimate rationalization -- the hair gel or the coordinated outfit was all to "get the girl" or the job. Unlike women, who can compare eyebrow waxes, makeup brands, and exercise regimens with each other, men cloak their body concerns in secrecy.
I'm not advocating an increased acceptance of body obsessions for men. We have seen the ramifications of pervasive appearance anxieties in women through the explosion of eating disorders and deflated self-image -- clearly the pressure to primp does more harm than good. But while we should not reproduce the worries of women in the male population, we can at least learn from how women deal with these issues. They talk with other women at work, at home, and in public. They write books and articles in protest. They do not suffer in silence. Our men can do the same -- they are stronger than secrecy. If only we could get them out of the closet.
This is a tough issue for many men, I think. We want to be attractive to women (or men, for some of us) - sensitive, well-groomed, fit, stylish - but we don't want to let others know that we care about this stuff. In addition, some of our natural evolution into more mature men means ditching the Brawny Man in favor a being a REAL man, whatever that means.
I suspect that over the next 10-25 years, some of this will work itself out as a new generation of men comes up - the boys who now are less concerned about appearing "gay" if they are well-groomed, or that have ditched all concern about this stuff (which I see some of in the boys at the high school next door).
What do you guys think?
Friday, May 22, 2009
However, what if men create intimacy with their partner before having sex. And what if we viewed sex as not about performance but about play, about a shared enjoyment of each other's bodies?
We all need to change our thinking about sex, but it seems that men might have further to go in this area than women.
This post comes from Sexual Intelligence.
Male Sexuality: Selfishness or Insecurity?
Last week I had the pleasure of sharing some time with psychologist Michael Bader. We were on TV together discussing various sexual issues, including male sexuality, the subject (and title) of his new book.
Michael challenges the common idea that men are selfish in bed, that they don’t much care about their partner and don’t really want to be close. He says, in fact, that the opposite is true: that most men face such a crushing sense of responsibility in bed that they are, understandably, insecure. This leads them to focus so much on their performance that a human connection is difficult.
Bravo. As a therapist, I’ve noticed this, too. Performance anxiety accounts for a lot of the erection problems I hear about in the office, as well as a lot of the low desire. In fact, there are guys who say “porn is easier than sex with my wife, because I never feel like I satisfy her.” That’s a far cry from “men are addicted to porn” or “men are afraid of intimacy.”
It’s ironic: when people are too concerned about their partner’s experience, they have trouble relaxing and enjoying sex. And while they think of this over-attention as caring, their partner more often describes it as distance or lack of caring.
And so I tell men AND women that rather than try to figure out what their partner wants in bed, looking obsessively for signs of reaction (positive or negative), they should instead do what they enjoy. When both people do that, AND communicate to each other what they like and don’t like, a couple will find the overlap in their interests, and live happily ever after. Or at least have decent sex periodically.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
What Is a Man?
By Tom Chiarella
A man carries cash. A man looks out for those around him — woman, friend, stranger. A man can cook eggs. A man can always find something good to watch on television. A man makes things — a rock wall, a table, the tuition money. Or he rebuilds — engines, watches, fortunes. He passes along expertise, one man to the next. Know-how survives him. This is immortality. A man can speak to dogs. A man fantasizes that kung fu lives deep inside him somewhere. A man knows how to sneak a look at cleavage and doesn't care if he gets busted once in a while. A man is good at his job. Not his work, not his avocation, not his hobby. Not his career. His job. It doesn't matter what his job is, because if a man doesn't like his job, he gets a new one.
A man can look you up and down and figure some things out. Before you say a word, he makes you. From your suitcase, from your watch, from your posture. A man infers.
A man owns up. That's why Mark McGwire is not a man. A man grasps his mistakes. He lays claim to who he is, and what he was, whether he likes them or not.
Some mistakes, though, he lets pass if no one notices. Like dropping the steak in the dirt.
A man loves the human body, the revelation of nakedness. He loves the sight of the pale breast, the physics of the human skeleton, the alternating current of the flesh. He is thrilled by the snatch, by the wrist, the sight of a bare shoulder. He likes the crease of a bent knee. When his woman bends to pick up her underwear, he feels that thrum that only a man can feel.
A man doesn't point out that he did the dishes.
A man looks out for children. Makes them stand behind him.
A man knows how to bust balls.
A man has had liquor enough in his life that he can order a drink without sounding breathless, clueless, or obtuse. When he doesn't want to think, he orders bourbon or something on tap.
Never the sauvignon blanc.
A man welcomes the coming of age. It frees him. It allows him to assume the upper hand and teaches him when to step aside.
Maybe he never has, and maybe he never will, but a man figures he can knock someone, somewhere, on his ass.
He does not rely on rationalizations or explanations. He doesn't winnow, winnow, winnow until truths can be humbly categorized, or intellectualized, until behavior can be written off with an explanation. He doesn't see himself lost in some great maw of humanity, some grand sweep. That's the liberal thread; it's why men won't line up as liberals.
A man gets the door. Without thinking.
He stops traffic when he must.
A man resists formulations, questions belief, embraces ambiguity without making a fetish out of it. A man revisits his beliefs. Continually. That's why men won't forever line up with conservatives, either.
A man knows his tools and how to use them — just the ones he needs. Knows which saw is for what, how to find the stud, when to use galvanized nails.
A miter saw, incidentally, is the kind that sits on a table, has a circular blade, and is used for cutting at precise angles. Very satisfying saw.
A man knows how to lose an afternoon. Drinking, playing Grand Theft Auto, driving aimlessly, shooting pool.
He knows how to lose a month, also.
A man listens, and that's how he argues. He crafts opinions. He can pound the table, take the floor. It's not that he must. It's that he can.
A man is comfortable being alone. Loves being alone, actually. He sleeps.
Or he stands watch. He interrupts trouble. This is the state policeman. This is the poet. Men, both of them.
A man loves driving alone most of all.
Style — a man has that. No matter how eccentric that style is, it is uncontrived. It's a set of rules.
He understands the basic mechanics of the planet. Or he can close one eye, look up at the sun, and tell you what time of day it is. Or where north is. He can tell you where you might find something to eat or where the fish run. He understands electricity or the internal-combustion engine, the mechanics of flight or how to figure a pitcher's ERA.
A man does not know everything. He doesn't try. He likes what other men know.
A man can tell you he was wrong. That he did wrong. That he planned to. He can tell you when he is lost. He can apologize, even if sometimes it's just to put an end to the bickering.
A man does not wither at the thought of dancing. But it is generally to be avoided.
A man watches. Sometimes he goes and sits at an auction knowing he won't spend a dime, witnessing the temptation and the maneuvering of others. Sometimes he stands on the street corner watching stuff. This is not about quietude so much as collection. It is not about meditation so much as considering. A man refracts his vision and gains acuity. This serves him in every way. No one taught him this — to be quiet, to cipher, to watch. In this way, in these moments, the man is like a zoo animal: both captive and free. You cannot take your eyes off a man when he is like that. You shouldn't. The hell if you know what he is thinking, who he is, or what he will do next.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The 40-Day Program
by Dan John
For the record, I'm pretty much done with it. I'm tired of hearing about the incredible number of pull-ups or Hindu push-ups people have done for three months while inexplicably failing to gain any appreciable muscle. Worse yet, these fine people email me, asking what they're doing wrong.
Of course, you know my only question.
What are your goals?
The answer, almost universally, is 1) lose fat and 2) gain some muscle. So, why, I think to myself, are they doing a half-baked high school PE regimen designed from the boot camp programs for wars nearly 75 years ago? It's one thing to train a depression-era farm boy into an infantryman or Marine, but it was never the drill sergeant's goal to prepare you for a photo shoot on the beach with a T-Vixen.
The problem with this boot camp approach is that it's been keyholed into what appears to be a modern and scientific training approach for elite training. When you read that the Soviets or East Germans developed these secret techniques in some secret facility in some secret location, hell, I get all 007, too.
Sadly, for most of us, it's just not working.
Let's look at this approach and let me offer the great insight of this program: the development of qualities.
There were believed to be three stages that one went through for elite performance in a sport. (Really, I should have an exclamation point after "sport," because that's the point most people miss: If you aren't doing this for a sport, usually an individual sport that's part of the Olympics, none of this stuff is going to be important, but follow along, please).
The stages were:
General Physical Preparation (GPP)
Specialized Physical Preparation (SPP)
If you were born after 1964, none of this has been utilized in your lifetime. So while many trainers embrace these three steps as set in stone, and it certainly has great value even if I'm probably too critical, elite athletes have moved to far more specialization.
Of course, as John Jerome wrote years ago, "Specificity works, but at a price." The price for me has been, at best, a lot of limping and, at worst, a lot of surgeries.
The lessons of accumulation are probably what most people mean when they talk about general physical preparation, but let's discuss these older views of training.
GPP is all about building whatever "qualities" are important for your sport. (Hang on here, this is important.)
SPP is attempting to continue upon the measurements that define the qualities of your sport, but now you attempt to hone skills specific to your sport.
Competition is fairly obvious. It's an attempt to master the skills of your sport during the time of competition. The qualities that you built upon for the past years may or may not support your success and that, as I often tell athletes, is the tragedy of this brand of training.
The skill aspects, which I'm going to ignore after this, relate solely to that sport. If you can barely stand up from a chair, but can toss a shot put over 75 feet, you're the best shot putter in the world and nobody is going to ask about your heart rate. Every second you walked on the treadmill to get your cardio was time away from building yourself into a champion shot putter.
What are the "qualities?" You can come up with your own list, but let's put out the basics:
Strength (the ability to move loads)
Power (the ability to move a load pretty quickly)
Flexibility and/or joint mobility
Endurance (whatever that means any more)
Fat loss (if applicable to your sport or goals)
Hypertrophy (if applicable to your sport or goals)
Obviously, skill shows up in much of any training. Something as simple as speed training can involve lots of deadlifts and squats, but there's also a need for smooth and efficient technique, too. (Although I'd argue genetics is where we start when it comes to elite sprinting.)
Here's the issue: For most, what qualities are we addressing?
Recently, a bodybuilding magazine stated something along these lines: "We don't want to be strong; we just want to look strong." After I vomited a little in my mouth, I thought about it. It's true. Guys who tell me that "I just want to look good naked" — and I pray they aren't thinking of doing that with me — are probably thinking along these lines.
Of course, and I love to point this out, most guys who train to look good naked nearly have to be naked before you can tell they even train. In street clothes, they look like members of the high school band, which is probably why most of them wear T-shirts three sizes too small and love to cut the sleeves off of most of their clothes.
In other words, the two qualities that the bulk of us wish to achieve nearly all of the time are:
1. Fat loss
2. Hypertrophy (more muscle mass or size, but with an eye to symmetry)
Quality: Fat Loss
With perhaps just a simple nod to the two-week Atkin's diet induction, there's no better plan for fat loss than the Velocity Diet. I went from 249 (or 251 depending on how we stood on the scale that day) to 226 in 28 days. My blood profiles improved so much that my doctor kept flipping the results and shaking his head.
Hear me: The 28-day Velocity Diet is the best route for most regarding fat loss.
But, I'm also honest. Many people fail on the V-Diet. Day one is tough, but days two through six are simply brutal. Yes, it eases after week two, but it's never easy. But, it accomplishes the single most common goal for people when they ask me for advice in diet and training.
I strongly urge you to consider the Alpo Diet as part of your reward and punishment plan if you embark on the V-Diet. Oh, the Alpo Diet? If you fail the V-Diet, you have to eat a can of Alpo in front of your friends. Hell, make a movie and put it on the 'net and let me watch it, too. If you can't help but eat a doughnut, smell some Alpo and think about it.
The problem with these two qualities — fat loss and hypertrophy — is that so much has been written on them that most people have lost sight of the keys here. When people think fat loss, in many cases, the first idea is to do massive amounts of crunches, which one world famous bodybuilder told me is the key to getting back surgery in your future.
The answer, then, to most people's goals is to go on the V-Diet, or something along those lines. As always, I'm fine with whatever serious approach you take, either the V-Diet or the Atkins induction or the Warrior diet or whatever, but fat loss is diet. Sorry. The truth will set you free, but you will crave doughnuts.
Folks, the V-Diet will find your six-pack. Mine was there under a nice padding of insulation.
As a strength coach, I field a lot of questions about hypertrophy. Actually, against all public opinion to the contrary, hypertrophy is an important part of the game for many sports.
Mike Ditka, a great American football coach, noted on the radio show "Mike and Mike in the Morning" that, "Some guys look good in the shower, but can't play." I always say: "Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane." So, you do have to be careful with the balance of things.
One way I address this issue is by changing the term "hypertrophy" or "bodybuilding" to "armor building." Yep, armor.
I played varsity football for South City High back in the glory days (key Bruce Springsteen) and all my games were at night. My last game was played on Thanksgiving early in the morning. Hours later, when I normally would've been asleep, we ate Thanksgiving dinner. I was simply amazed at how much pain my upper arms felt from the banging of a game. Since that time, I've bought into the idea of armor building for football.
There's no question that the more time one spends under load, the more hypertrophy that will result. Note that I never give absolutes here. I had an athlete ask me about soreness and I found myself speechless, as I've never found any credible evidence that soreness is an indicator of anything. Like soreness, any and all methods of training seem to work across the spectrum, but few of us have ever found the answer that works for everybody every time.
So, how do we increase the amount of time under load?
Recently, I discussed the idea of complexes. Like the circuit training programs of the 1960s, especially Bob Gajda's Peripheral Heart Action where you literally combined lifts to drive the heart rate through the roof, the downside for most people is simply this:
We (and I'm including all of us) come into hypertrophy programs too weak. So, when most people begin doing complexes or circuits or whatever, the weights are too light.
There, I said it. To build muscle, most of us need to build strength. So, stability, mobility, then strength should be the mantra for most of us in our weight training.
And, I think it's far simpler than I ever imagined. Recently, I increased my thick bar deadlift from 265 (this is a seriously thick, thick bar) to 315 pounds. I also used this same program to match my best bench press in a decade without ever going hard for even one workout.
What is this miracle? Well, give me 40 days.
The 40 Day Workout
A few years ago, Pavel Tsatsouline, noted kettlebell master and perhaps the keenest mind in strength I've ever met, gave me a simple program. Be wary, this program is so simple that you'll ignore its value.
1. For the next 40 workouts, do the exact same training program every day. (For the record, I find that most of my goals are reached by day 20 or 22, so you can also opt for a shorter period.)
2. Pick five exercises. I suggest you do a squatting movement like the goblet squat or overhead squat as part of the warm-up, as you don't want to ignore the movement, but it might be fun to focus on other aspects of your body.
3. Focus on these five movements:
• A large posterior chain movement (the deadlift is the right answer)
• Upper body push (bench press, incline bench press, military press)
• Upper body pull (pull-ups, rows, or, if you've ignored them like me, heavy bicep curls)
• A simple full-body explosive move (kettlebell swings or snatches)
• And something for what I call an "anterior chain" move (an abdominal exercise). I think the ab wheel is king here, but you can also do some movements best suited for lower reps.
4. Only do two sets of five reps per workout for the deadlift and push/pull exercises, and one set of 20 to 50 for the explosive move. Do a solid single set of five reps for the abs.
5. Never plan or worry about the weight or the load. Always stay within yourself and go heavy "naturally."
6. Don't eat chalk, scream, or pound on walls. Simply do each lift without any emotion or excitement and strive for perfect technique.
So, the workout might consist of these five movements:
Thick bar deadlift
Heavy biceps curls
For the record, this is exactly what I recently used in my workouts. I often did this five days a week, and found that my lifts naturally waved up and down throughout the week and the full 40 days. Sometimes, something like a 250-pound bench press would feel so light for both sets of five that I had to hold back on the excitement to do more sets and reps.
The secret to the program is that you get your volume from doing up to ten sets of a lift in a week and the load increases as you naturally feel like the weights are "easy." It is that simple.
The first time I tried this program under Pavel's direction, I added 15 pounds to my lifetime incline bench press during the twenty-first workout, approximately a month after starting the program. I did this max with no spotter and I got the lift for a double. It was a 15-pound improvement over my lifetime best with an extra rep as a parting gift without doing a single hard workout. Just two sets of five anytime I entered the gym.
You can certainly come up with your own variations, but try to stick with the basic five movements and don't stray far from two sets of five. You'll be amazed at how quickly your strength will improve after just a few weeks. Also, notice the element of randomness in this workout.
With a home gym, I can train this program daily, but I naturally find that I take days off here and there simply because of the nature of life. You could do all 40 (or 20) days in a row, but things will come up.
After finishing either all 40 days or when you feel your strength has come up to a level that more advanced training methods are appropriate, feel free to move along. The short time you invest in focusing on strength building will do wonders for your muscle mass as you begin to attack super sets or whatever you deem important.
The 40 Day Workout might be an excellent way to progress through the V-Diet, or any other diet strategy that involves a set number of weeks. After ending the 28 days of the diet, one's strength will take off as you ease off the strict nutritional efforts.
If the two qualities that you want to address are fat loss and hypertrophy, why are you doing all that other nonsense?
Fat loss is diet. I think the Velocity Diet is the best, but I also found amazing success with the Atkins induction. Although you shouldn't ignore exercise, focus on the diet side for fat loss.
For many of the people I've worked with on hypertrophy, basic strength needs to be addressed before we move the program into something complex. Try the 40 Day Workout and drive your basic lifts up.
For most of us, our goals will be reached far quicker and relatively easier by a focused diet and a simpler lifting program.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Motivational Posters: Theodore Roosevelt EditionMay 17, 2009
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll know that we’re big fans of Theodore Roosevelt. No one preached the art of manliness more ardently or lived it more fervently than TR. To start your week off with a swift kick in the pants of manly inspiration, we’ve created some TR-themed motivational posters. Each poster includes a picture of Roosevelt living the strenuous life, along with a motivational quote from the man himself. Bully! (If you receive email updates, you might have to come to the site to see the images.)
Monday, May 18, 2009
LIVE WITH AN OPEN HEART EVEN IF IT HURTS
Closing down in the midst of pain is a denial of a man’s true nature. A superior man is free in feeling and action, even amidst great pain and hurt. If necessary, a man should live with a hurting heart rather than a closed one. He should learn to stay in the wound of pain and act with spontaneous skill and love even from that place.
Imagine failing at a major project, lying to your woman and getting caught, or overhearing her joke about your shortcomings in bed. How do you react with your body, breath and eyes? Notice if you react to a person or situation that hurts you by withdrawing, hiding or closing in on yourself. Notice if there are times when you find it difficult to look into someone’s eyes, or times you’re your chest and solar plexus become tense and contracted. These are signs of an unskillful reaction to hurt. Contracted and closed in on yourself, you are unable to act. You are trapped in your own self-protective tension, no longer a free man.
The superior man practices opening during these times of automatic closure. Open the front of your body so your chest and solar plexus are not tense. Sit or stand up straight and full, opening the front of your body, softening your chest and belly, wide and free. Breathe down through your chest and solar plexus, deep into your belly. Look directly into the eyes of whomever you are with, feeling your own pain as well as feeling the other person. Only when the front of your body is relaxed and opened, your breathe full and deep, and your gaze unguarded and directly connected with another person’s eyes, can your fullest intelligence manifest spontaneously in the situation. To act as a superior man, a samurai of relationship, you must feel the entire situation with your whole body. A closed body is unable to sense subtle cues and signals, and therefore unable to act with mastery in the situation.
From The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida, Chapter 2
May 14, 2009by Bobbi Wingham (a woman, ex feminist)
Women need to encourage men to be masculine - who they really are and not who women think they should be. This means women should back off. But, for the guys out there who haven't got a clue who they are and what real women want and need, here goes:
The Traits of a Masculine Man
1. Confidence: Believe in yourself, not only that you can do what you set out to do, but that you already are what you need to be (even if on the outside it doesn't yet show). Everything begins with a thought. Watch your thinking. In the Bible, it says, "As a man thinketh, so is he." A masculine man is confident even in the face of rejection and its aftermath so that it doesn't phase him and he moves on if necessary. A truly confident man has nothing to prove.
2. Courage: A masculine man is courageous (I'm not talking about being willing to do stupid stunts, either), willing to do what is necessary without showing weakness (even if you are scared to death). A man cannot be truly courageous and brave if he does not fear something. If a woman is carrying on and wanting to pick a fight, don't back down and run away (but don't fight either). A woman is not a child, but would you run out the door if a child were throwing a tantrum or would you stay and handle the situation?
3. Responsibility: Take responsibility for what happens in your life and stop being a victim. Being a victim is exactly what our society expects you to be. Be who you really are intended to be - a leader and victor. Make plans and carry them out. Don't fear failure. Someone once said, "If you show me a man who has never made a mistake, I'll show you a man who has never done anything." Refuse to be a victim no matter what you encounter. Consider yourself a "warrior" and victor in all of life's curve balls. Change your plans if necessary, take charge of your life and where it goes. Learn from the battles lost and go on to win the war.
4. Discipline: Take charge of your life and what goes on in it. Carry out and complete your goals. Do everything you say you will do. Eat right and stay in shape, therefore you will also be able to think more clearly.
5. Honesty, Integrity, and Kindness: Be honest with yourself and others holding yourself to the highest of standards. Find the fine line between kindness and honesty when necessary. Sometimes, one is more important than the other. With some finesse, you will be able to be honest and kind at the same time. Be kind and gentle toward women, children, and the elderly.
6. Treat Women Like Women: Most of today's men don't seem to have a clue anymore (this is largely because of feminism). I take my kids to Judo practice and am saddened by what I experience there. There are only a few chairs and they are always full of both men and women. When I arrive, not one man ever offers me his chair - a masculine thing. Real men honor women. Real men treat others with respect and dignity. I once read about two men standing on a sidewalk when a prostitute walked by. One man tipped his hat and said, "Good day, ma'am." The other looked the other way, then later asked, "Why did you even speak to her, she's a prostitute!" To which he replied, "I greeted her not because of who she is but because of who I am." This is a masculine man.
7. Listen: We have two ears and one mouth for good reason - we are supposed to be doing twice as much listening as speaking. When a woman speaks, listen with your heart. Instead of thinking, "Oh great, here she goes again." think, "She has a need. What is it? What can I do to help." This goes against the nature of today's men, it seems. They want to strike back and have forgotten who they are dealing with. When a woman lets you know she 's upset, what she is really doing is asking you to take charge and help her. It is a cry for help. Most of the time she will just need your love, understanding, and a listening ear, but under no circumstances are you to take abuse from her. Make that very clear. You must keep your cool. A woman will not respect a man who looses his cool in the face of adversity.
8. Defend the Weak: Protect and provide for your family and anyone who is being unfairly attacked. Consider getting martial arts training, learn to use guns and keep them ready, etc. Be prepared for disasters and have a plan. Refuse to allow anyone to overstep their boundaries, but be smart about how you accomplish this. Plan ahead. Remember, you are a leader so act like one.
9. Inspire submission: A masculine man in a relationship with a woman will always inspire and never force her submission. He will remain a gentleman at all times when dealing with a woman.
For you women who want this kind of man (and most do no matter what they say), this is the easy part. You don't have to give your man a long list of rules or tell him how to be a man; it's already there inside him. Just step back, show him respect, and let him decide. Encourage him gently not so much with words but your actions. Give him time and space. If you step back he'll have to step up to fill the void you once filled, or else there is no relationship.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Be sure to go visit Jayson's blog - Revolutionary Man - for other good material and great insights into a mature masculinity.
How a Simple Personality Test Can Lead You to More Freedom: The EnneagramMay 15th, 2009
I used to think most personality tests were pretty lame. Even the Myers Briggs. What do they really tell me about myself that I don’t already know?
Well, I have since been very humbled by The Enneagram which revealed that I was a type-three!
This modern psychological tool is used by millions accross the world for more self-understanding and self-actualization. The symbol is shown to the left.
They symbol itself is said to date back 2,500 years. They psychology of the 9 points related to the symbol is said to date back to the fourth century AD. The symbol, used with the 9 personality types used in harmony is merely a few decades old.* For more history about the Enneagram click here.
The Enneagram is a conglomerate of many sacred teachings from Christianity to Judaism, and even Buddhism. Since the 1970’s it has been used to help people understand themselves more deeply and reach their human, spiritual potential.
The Enneagram can help you understand that you are not your personality. That below your conditioned personality is something utterly profound—your true essence as a human being.
And for men and women that want to be truely themselves (and not what others taught them or told them to be) and reach their innate potential, it is an awesome tool for personal (and even professional) development.
Because as said in my earlier post, the deeper you know yourself, the more choices you have in life and the more freedom and fulfillment you will discover.
How do I start?
To do this right, I recommend taking a free test online here. Once you do that, read about each type and get a sense of yours. You might take another different test online and see what you score there, so that you have two sets of results to compare.
To really do it right, I suggest buying The Wisdom Of The Enneagram book by Riso & Hudson.
Here is an short description of each type so you can get a sense of which you might identify with. Remember, each type has a neurotic aspect and a wisdom aspect. Riso & Hudson do a good job of showing you where you are stuck and what you need to do to integrate to a higher level of being.
Type One: The reformer: Principled, idealistic, perfectionistic
- Basic Fear: I’m bad, corrupt.
- Healthy self: I’m a reasonable, objective person
Type two: The Helper, caretaker. Caring, interpersonal.
- Basic Fear: Of Being unloved
- Healthy self: I’m a caring, loving person
Type three: The Achiever: Success-oriented, doer. gets it done.
- Basic Fear: I’m worthless
- Healthy self: I am an outstanding, effective person
Type Four: The Individualist, the artist. Romantic, self-aware, sensative.
- Basic Fear: Of having no identity or significance
- Healthy self: I am an intuitive, sensitive person
Type Five: The investigator. Intense, intellectual, insightful, curious, often observing at a distance.
- Basic Fear: Of being incompetent, helpless and incapable
- Healthy self:I am an intelligent, perceptive person
Type Six: The Loyalist, committed, security-oriented, responsible.
- Basic Fear: Of being without support and guidance
- Healthy self:I am a committed, dependable person
Type Seven: The Enthusiast. Busy, productive, leader, optimistic, spontaneous, versatile.
- Basic Fear: Of being trapped in pain and deprivation
- Healthy self:I am a happy, enthusiastic person
Type Eight: The Boss or Challenger. Powerful, dominating
- Basic Fear: Of being harmed, controlled or violated
- Healthy self:I am a strong, assertive person
Type Nine: The Peacemaker. Easygoing, trusting.
- Basic Fear: Of loss, separation and fragmentation
- Healthy self:I am a peaceful, easygoing person
As the book The Wisdom Of the Enneagram says, “The core truth that the Enneagram conveys to us is that we are much more than our personality.”
To me, this model is 10 times more powerful than the Myers Briggs personality test.
So, if you are committed to your own development and growth, the Enneagram is an essential tool to have on your way to more freedom and self knowledge.
*The Wisdom Of The Enneagram by Ruso and Hudson