No one understands men. Women don't understand men and men don't understand themselves. Surprisingly few psychologists even understand men, since most men do not seek psychotherapy. In the United States therapy continues to be a woman's domain, with
70 percent of a typical psychologists practice devoted to women. The gap is even wider when we consider the fact that half the men in that remaining 30 percent are there with their wives or girlfriends.
Why such a lopsided picture? In our society a man's conditioning strongly discourages him from seeking out therapy. This learning process begins at a very early age and is actually an important part of a man's social and emotional development. Boys and girls are exposed to entirely different sets of teachings and expectations. Girls are taught to honor and understand their emotions. Conversely, boys are encouraged, even forced, to hold in and suppress their emotions. There is hardly a man in America today who didn't grow up hearing such admonitions as Big boys don't cry! or Be a man! These commands form the young boys reality. As he matures into adolescence, he learns that when he talks too much about his feelings, he is shunned by the other boys in the group. This is in contrast to the reality of young girls, who are encouraged to whisper, gossip, complain, and share secrets. Throughout their lives girls place the highest regard on sharing, while boys are expected to place the highest value on competition. Not surprisingly, as boys mature into men they tend to express their feelings through competitive arenas, progressing from cowboys and Indians in the early years, through war games and sports in adolescence, and on to business and politics in adulthood.
The result is that man in our society grows up feeling innately, internally alone. He has learned independence and self-reliance and considers them to reign supreme among his values. He wants to be in control. He cannot imagine ever needing to go for help and rarely considers it an option.