Understanding Men—The Science And The Emotion

Understanding men is easy, some would argue; you just have to know what men want. Why do so many men feel confused about themselves, then? Why is it that most men couldn't tell you what they want or who they are?

Men are considered to be far less complex than women. A large factor in this is the way their brains are organised. The male brain is compartmentalised—every part works independent of the other. Specific behaviour that has been labelled as masculine results from this, for example being able to do only one thing at a time, or putting focus onto something else as a way letting go, or being in the mood for – and ready for – sex in a matter of seconds.

Understanding Men—The Background

The two halves of the male brain are connected by merely one third of the connections the female brain has. These connections regulate the ability to switch from the logical, left, side of the brain to the sensitive, right, side of the brain. This is an important factor in understanding men and male behaviour.

Although the constitution of the male brain is a scientific truth, does this scientific truth explain why men are considered less complex? Does the way the male brain is organised determine men's level of emotional depth, men's ability to understand themselves, to understand women? Somehow that doesn’t feel right. Could there be another reason?

As I outlined in 'Male Dominance' we live in a patriarchal society. Everything we are taught and all of our systems and structures are male focused. Boys are 'groomed' to be part of the structure, to contribute to it and to share in its rewards. For many boys this 'grooming' leads to them shutting off part of their personality. Boys are taught not to cry, to be strong.

Crying and displaying emotions are the domain of girls.

By the time men grow into adolescence, they are often no longer capable of truly expressing the full range of their emotions. When they reach their twenties and thirties, some 'real men' are no longer in touch with their emotions, their feelings at all. Some men in positions of power or authority might express anger and frustration, but that is considered to be in bad taste.

Fathering children and providing for the family is a responsibility that prevents many men from following their inner most desires. I have met countless men who talked about how they would have liked to do something important or real with their life – if they had only had the chance. Alas, duty called.

Men reap all the benefits, are out there in the world while the women stay at home. Men have access to things women don't have. Men, however, have areas they can't go to. Today, careful 'grooming' still keeps men from developing, knowing and living in their emotions. Knowing this makes understanding men's confusion a little easier. A man needs access to his full range of emotions to live a balanced life, a life of purpose.

Outrageous Creativity

Society adores great works of art, great men of vision and creativity, but the men who are painters, actors, singers and dancers are themselves despised. They often live unhappy lives, filled with alcohol and drugs. They are going against society's viewpoint that has branded their emotions an outrageous display of their feminine side.

Thus the confusion grows. It becomes ever easier to understand how men can feel so adrift. In a world increasingly under the influence of the feminine, men are expected to show their emotions and to talk about them, yet on a subconscious level society still moulds them not to.

We are all the product of the same groundwork that has shaped and formed us. It is no use us blaming the past, what is done is done.

In western society, however, things are starting to improve, there is more clarity in understanding men. Men have increasing opportunities to choose differently, to educate themselves and learn to bring the parts that are missing back to the whole.

There might be another light on the horizon for future generations. Recent studies have suggested that young boys might actually be more sensitive than young girls. But before you get too excited, let me give you Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Sebastian Kraemer's reaction, from an issue of the British Medical Journal:

If parents were more aware of male sensitivity, they might change the way they treat their sons.

The traditional attitude that "boys will be boys" needs exploring further. Seems like we still have a long way to go!