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Masculine psychology or the psychology of men is a term sometimes used to describe and categorize issues concerning the gender related psychology of human male identity, as well as the issues that men confront during their lives. One stream emphasises gender differences and has a scientific and empirical approach, while the other, more therapeutic in orientation, is more closely aligned to the psychoanalytic tradition. It also relates to concepts such as masculinity and machismo.

Born of the female body

Jungian analysts Guy Corneau and Eugene Monick argue that the establishment and maintenance of the male identity is more delicate and fraught with complication than that of the establishment and maintenance of the female identity. Such psychologists suggest that this may be because men are born of the female body, and thus are born from a body that is a different gender from themselves. Women, on the other hand, are born from a body that is the same gender as their own.

A woman simply is, but a man must become. Masculinity is risky and elusive. It is achieved by a revolt from woman, and it is confirmed only by other men.[1]

Camille Paglia has commented that she believes that women are born, but men must "become". In other words, masculinity is not something that is granted by birth but is something that must be earned in adult life.

Role of the father

Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung argued that a father is very important to a boy's development of identity. In his book Absent Fathers, Lost Sons [2] Canadian Jungian analyst Guy Corneau writes that the presence of the father's body during the son's developmental phases is integral in the son developing a positive sense of self as masculine. Corneau also argues that if the son does not develop positively towards the father's male body, then the son runs the risk of developing negatively towards all bodies. Sigmund Freud argued that in the son's mind, the father's body represents the law, and that the role of the father's body is to break the attachment the son feels to the mother and by extension his own anima.

Freudian analysts claim that all sons feel they are in competition with their father and often feel in a battle against the father. (Sigmund Freud referred to this as Oedipus Complex.) Freudian psychologists claim that the risk the son runs is that in some cases it is more difficult to win the battle against the father than to lose the battle against the father. This is because a common result of winning the battle against the father is that the son suffers tremendous guilt.

French psychoanalyst Annette Fréjaville has presented her thesis that all men experience what she terms "primary homosexuality". She argues that primary homosexuality takes place very early in a son's life and consists of a "love story" between the son and father. This "love story" consists of idealizations by the son of the father in which the son expresses an interest in his father and a desire to become what his father represents to him, e.g., "When I grow up I'm going to be like daddy." Fréjaville theorized that such recognition of similarity is the basis of all identification, and that such idealization and identification provides the son with a firm grounding in his own masculinity. [3]

Influence on Abrahamic religions

The Abrahamic religions are the most influential religions in the western world. All three religions were founded by men, so some scholars and psychologists have theorized that they may dramatize important themes in men's relationship with their fathers. Conversely, conservative theologians within these traditions, especially Christianity, see fatherhood itself modeled on God the Father.

In his book Moses and Monotheism, Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, presents his thesis that Judaism is the religion of the father and Christianity is the religion of the son.

Gender of God

Main article: God and gender

The original languages of several religions have gender specific pronouns or verb conjugation. References to God often use the masculine pronoun "he," and in other ways refer to God as masculine. In Mainstream Christianity God is understood as a three-in-one Trinity, which consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Judaism as well as Islam, God is often portrayed as male and is never portrayed as female. [4]


The study of masculine psychology has brought about the publication of several books.

Eugene Monick

Cover of Eugene Monick's Phallos: Sacred Image of the Masculine

Eugene Monick PhD. is a Jungian Analyst practicing in Scranton, Pennsylvannia, and New York City. He is a graduate of the Virginia (Episcopal) Theological Seminary. He received his doctorate from the Union Graduate School, and his Diploma in Analytical Psychology from the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich. Monick has published three books on masculine psychology.

In his books Phallos: Sacred Image of the Masculine (ISBN 0-919123-26-0), Castration and Male Rage (ISBN 0-919123-51-1), and Potency: Masculine Aggression as a Path to the Soul (ISBN 1-894574-15-X), Monick correlates male sexuality and spirituality, saying that "phallos" (the erect penis) is something of an existential God-image for men. He also presents his thesis that there is a difference between masculinity and patriarchy. The author also argues that there is a deep need within men to participate in a fraternity with men and to have their maleness recognized by other men, but that our society often does not take this into account. The author claims that what usually results is that these needs become frustrated and manifest themselves in often anti-social behavior and activities, such as hazing rituals.

The author says it is puzzling that we live in what is largely considered a male-dominated society, and yet very little work has been done to understand the archetypal basis of masculinity. He suggests that this may be due to the assumption of male superiority, founded on the belief that one should not question that which is deemed to be right and superior.

Many of the ideas of this second book are founded on the ideas set forth in his first book. Since that first work designates phallos as an "existential god-image" for men, Monick writes that the suggestion of castration, whether symbolic or literal, is highly traumatic for males. Monick suggests that much of the anger expressed by men is in some ways related to their sense of castration. In the third installment in what Monick has referred to as the "Phallos Trilogy", Monick argues that the "collapse of patriarchy — that is, the social dominance of males as an assumed cultural given — is on our doorstep if not already in the house".

Sam Keen

In Sam Keen's is author of the book Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man.

Susan Faludi

Susan Faludi, a noted feminist author, published Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man in 1999. In this book she claims that in the 20th Century men suffered from the breakdown of patriarchal structures.

Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette

Robert L. Moore and Douglas Gillette collaborated on a series of five books on male psychology and mythopoetic aspects of human development, including King, Warrior, Magician, Lover, and a book exploring each of these four archetypes. The book and its authors are considered important parts of the men's movement in the latter part of the 20th century.

The Male Fear of the Feminine

The male fear of the feminine is a phenomenon that has been discussed since the 1930s. It was first introduced by the German psychoanalyst and critique of Freudian theory, Karen Horney (1932) in her paper titled “the dread of women.” Erich Neumann (1954), a German born Jungian analyst, dedicated one essay to the discussion, titled “The fear of the feminine” (Orig: Die Angst vor dem Weiblichen, 1959). Neumann regards “patriarchal normality as a form of fear of the feminine” (p.261).

A later contributor is Chris Blazina, based at Tennessee State University, a psychoanalyst of the Kleinian object relations school. Blazina considers that “the fear of the feminine helps define what is masculine” (1997). In the 1986, James O’Neil theorized that the male fear of the feminine is a core aspect of the male psyche. He developed a 37-question psychometric test titled gender-role-conflict-scale (GRCS), to measure the extend to which a man is in conflict with traditional masculine role values; this test is build upon the notion of the male fear of the feminine.[5]

In 2003, Werner Kierski, a London based German born psychotherapist and researcher, associated with humanistic psychology, transpersonal and existential psychotherapy designed the first empirical research into the male fear of the feminine with the results published in 2007 and presented to the public at the 2007 annual conference of the American Men’s Studies Association (AMSA) and at the 2007 research conference of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

According to the various sources, the male fear of the feminine is connected to influences from mother and to cultural norms that prescribe how men must behave in order to feel accepted as men.

When men experience vulnerable feelings and other feelings that are associated with women men can get frightened. According to Kierski (2007), the fear of the feminine then acts in two ways: a) Like an internal monitor to ensure that men stay within the boundaries of what is regarded as masculine, i.e. being action orientated, self-reliant, guarded and seemingly independent; b) if a man fails to experience this and feels out of control, vulnerable or dependent, the fear of the feminine can act like a defence, leading to splitting off, repressing or projecting those feelings.

Figure 1: Male fear of the feminine as an internal monitor and as a defence. Source: Werner Kierski.

Kierski’s research discovered that men do acknowledge that male fear of the feminine can have a strong influence on both hetero and homo sexual men. The research has also indicated that there appears to be a link between fear of the feminine and men’s negative views about counselling and psychotherapy. In addition, this research has identified four possible groups of experiences that lead to male fear of the feminine, which relate to internal and external triggers. These are: Experiencing vulnerability and uncertainty; women who are strong and competent; women who are angry or, aggressive; women that are like mother.


See also: Gay panic defense and Violence#Psychology and sociology

Issues of homophobia and gay bashing are of relevance to the study of masculine psychology. Every year, men (such as Matthew Shepard) die as a result of gay bashing.[6] The victims of gay bashing attacks are most often self-identified homosexual males,[7] or those who display what are commonly perceived as effeminate behaviour or mannerisms which are when seen in males often associated with homosexuality. Self-identified heterosexual males are usually the perpetrators of gay bashing attacks.[8][9][10]

Sigmund Freud presented the thesis that everyone is at some level bisexual,[11] and Alfred Kinsey research results claimed that as many as 37% of American males had engaged in homosexual activity[12] (a number not supported by all research).[13][14][15][16][17][18] The French-Canadian psychologist Guy Corneau says that despite Kinsey's research results attitudes toward homosexuality have remained hostile.[19]

Historical perspectives

Michelangelo's David.

Among artists and scientists during the Renaissance, it was the prevailing belief that the study of the male form was in itself a study of God. Michelangelo's David is based upon this artistic discipline, which is known as disegno. Under this discipline, sculpture is considered to be the finest form of art because it mimics divine creation. Because Michelangelo adhered to the concepts of disegno, he worked under the premise that the image of David was already in the block of stone he was working on—in much the same way as the human soul is thought by some to be found within the physical body.


Main article: Sport psychology

Competitive sports are heavily influenced by masculine psychology. Though females do play sports, culturally male athletes are often accorded more attention and respect than their female counterparts. In professional sports, male sports leagues flourish while female sports often receive poor attendance at games and are often forced to close as a result. The Modern Olympics are based on the Ancient Olympic Games of Greece. In the ancient Greecian games, not only were women forbidden from competing in the games, they were not even allowed to attend the Olympic games. Sports terminology has been transmuted into common day slang, often with sexual connotation. For example, it is common for males to refer to "scoring" with a woman.

See also


  1. Camille Paglia as quoted on Masculine Virtues site.
  2. "Absent Fathers, Lost Sons" listing (ISBN 0-87773-603-0)
  3. Annette Fréjaville as quoted in "Absent Fathers, Lost Sons"
  4. God and gender: "In Judaism, Islam and Sikhism, God has traditionally been referred to by using masculine pronouns. However, in Sikhism this is due to grammatical conventions, rather than implying actual gender. In Mainstream Christianity, God is understood to be a Trinity, consisting of three persons in one God. The three persons of the Trinity are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The names Father and Son clearly imply masculinity, and God the Son is believed literally to have become incarnate as a human male – the man, Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel of John implies the masculinity of the Spirit, by applying a masculine demonstrative pronoun to the grammatically neuter antecedent."
  6. Gay Bashing Retrieved June 5, 2006
  7. Violence against gays: "61% of these attacks were against gay men, 14% against lesbians, 2% against heterosexuals and 1% against bisexuals, while attacks against GLB people at large made up 20%." Retrieved June 5, 2006
  8. Violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and the transgendered#Statistics
  9. Bureau of Justice Statistics Retrieved June 9, 2006
  10. Homicide trends in the U.S. Trends by gender Retrieved June 9, 2006
  11. Storr, Anthony. Freud: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, USA; New edition (April 9, 2001) (ISBN 0-19285-455-0) Page 152: "Freud asserted that everyone is bisexual at some level."
  12. Kinsey, Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male p. 656
  13. Johnson, A.M. et al. (1992). Sexual lifestyles and HIV risk. Nature, 360(3), Dec. 3, 1992, 410-412.
  14. PDF link
  15. Turner CF, Ku L, Rogers SM, Lindberg LD, Pleck JH, and Sonenstein FL (1998). Adolescent sexual behavior, drug use, and violence: Increased reporting with computer survey technology. Science Magazine, 280(5365-8), 867-73.)
  16. John O.G. Billy, Koray Tanfer, William R. Grady, and Daniel H. Klepinger, The Sexual Behavior of Men in the United States, Family Planning Perspectives, The Alan Guttmacher Institute, vol. 25, no. 2 (March/April 1993). Guttmacher Institute home page
  17. [1]
  18. Dawson, D. & Hardy, A.M. (1990-1992). National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control, Advance Data, 204, 1990-1992.
  19. Guy Corneau. Absent Fathers, Lost Sons: The Search for Masculine Identity (ISBN 0-87773-603-0). Page 65. "It is depressing to realize that more than forty years after the publication of the Kinsey Report, attitudes toward homosexuality have remained so hostile, despite (or could it be because), as Kinsey's research showed, 37 percent of the American male population has engaged in homosexual behavior to ejaculation after the age of puberty?"


Blazina, C. 1997. The Fear of the Feminine in the Western Psyche and the Masculine Task of Disidentification. The Journal of Men's Studies Vol 9, no 22.

Blazina, C. (2003). The Cultural Myth of Masculinity. Westport, CT: Praeger. (ISBN 0-275-97990-3)

Horney, K. (1932). The dread of woman. International Journal of Psycho- Analysis, 13, republished in Grigg, R., Hecq, D., and Smith, C., (Eds) (1999). Female Sexuality: The Early Psychoanalytic Controversies. London: Rebus Press. (ISBN 10-1892746395)

Kierski, W. 2002. Female violence: can we therapists face up to it? Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal, Vol 13, no 10, December 2002, p. 32-35. (ISSN 1474-5372)[[2]]

Kierski, W. 2007. Men and the Fear of the Feminine. Self&Society [[3]]. Vol 34, no 5. March-April 2007, p. 27-33.

Neumann, E. 1994. The Fear of the Feminine. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (ISBN 0-691-03473-7) (First published in German as: die Angst vor dem Weiblichen, 1959. Zürich: Racher Verlag)

O’Neil, J.M., Helmes, B.J., Gable, R.K., David, L.,Wrightsman, L.S. 1986. Gender-Role-Conflict-Scale: College men’s fear of the feminine. Sex Roles. No. 14, p. 335-350.

See also

External links

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