I don’t want to talk about it!
Just finished I don’t want to talk about it by Terrence Real today. (Scribner, 1997) The sub-title is: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression. Not written from a Christian perspective but a good read and useful for all men at every age–in other words, it’s never too late nor too early to read this book! He has an insightful discussion about the active and passive abuse that occurs to many men in the socialization process, a process that teaches us to hold emotions at a distance. What I take away from the book is that many men suffer from covert or overt depression. They have learned to cover up the pain of their depression with addictive behavior which may lead to abuse or irresponsibility toward others and by keeping relationships at a distance emotionally. When things collapse or their self-medication attempts fail, the depression breaks out.
I like these quotes from his concluding chapter:
The essential shift in question that marks a depressed man’s transformation is the shift from: What shall I get? to: What can I offer? . . . Recovery demands a move into generativity. 321
But service is the appropriate central organizing force of mature manhood. When the critical questions concern what one is going to get, a man is living a boy’s world. Beyond a certain point in a man’s life, if he is to remain truly vital, he needs to be actively engaged in devotion to something other than his own success and happiness. . . . A grown man with nothing to devote himself to is a man who is sick at heart. What a great many men in this culture choose to serve is their own reflected value, which they often believe serves the needs of their family, even while their families may be crying out for something different from them. 322
Yet it is the placing of oneself at the service of a larger context that derives a man into his own growth and fullest potential. 323
What Havel describes is hubris, the delusion of control that lies at the heart of traditional masculinity. And it is this hubris that is transformed in the recovery process of depressed men. 325
Seems like this fits well with the longing and need for the transcendent that van Kaam writes about!