Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

I posted this over at Integral Option Cafe this morning, but even adult men can enjoy a classic Charlie Brown cartoon.

What would Halloween be without the Linus and the Great Pumpkin, Snoopy's happy dance with a falling leaf, Lucy pulling away the football from Charlie Brown, and on and on.

Somehow, even at 45 years of age, the holidays are empty without the classic Charlie Brown cartoons. I guess I'm nostalgic for the world the Charles Schulz imagined.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Manpocalypse" Now - Jared DeFife Reviews Philip Zimbardo's "The Demise of Guys"

From Psychotherapy Networker, Jared DeFife reviews Philip Zimbardo's recent book on the plight of boys and men in this culture, The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It. This is a TED Book, so it's only $2.99, but it's also only available for the Kindle (but you can get a free Kindle app for your Apple or Android device, and for your desktop/laptop).

By Jared DeFife

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo knows a thing or two about tough guys. In 1971, his notorious Stanford prison experiment, originally planned for two weeks, had to be shut down after only six days when college students acting out roles as prison guards started to play a little too rough with their mock inmates. In 2007, he tried to understand the military abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in his book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. Now he turns his attention to a different kind of prisoner: the average American male shackled by the constraints and demands of societal expectations.

In a new eBook titled The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do about It, Zimbardo and his coauthor psychologist Nikita Duncan paint a dire picture of dudes in this country, asserting that boys are increasingly failing to measure up academically, socially, and sexually. The blame, they say, lies with the Internet, television, and video games. According to their view, a new Lost Generation has grown up, addicted to arousal and constantly seeking stimulation and novelty through digital means: "The excessive use of video games and online porn in pursuit of the next thing is creating a generation of risk-averse guys who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school and employment." More young men are supposedly languishing in their parents' basements, aimless, asocial, and out of touch.

The signs of the decline, they say, are everywhere: falling test scores, violent video gaming, and a buxom pornography industry. Zimbardo describes a "social intensity syndrome" in which men are driven to engage in intense, male-dominated social interactions leading to an endorphin rush that the rest of their dull daily lives just can't match. During a popular TED talk, Zimbardo said "Guys would rather be in a bar with strangers, watching a totally overdressed Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, than Jennifer Lopez totally naked in the bedroom."

Boys aren't the only ones struggling, suggests psychiatrist Boadie Dunlop, director of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at Emory University. With the economic downturn's hitting men particularly hard, they're relying more heavily on women as the primary household earners. While traditionally female-populated fields like healthcare and social services are experiencing burgeoning demand, "manly" occupations like construction and manufacturing are being scaled back and reorganized for greater efficiency. Many men are finding themselves outsourced, obsolete, and out of work. "Compared to women, men attach greater importance to their roles as providers and protectors of their families," Dunlop says, "and men's failure to fulfill the role of breadwinner may lead to greater depression and marital conflict."

Zimbardo and Duncan may be sounding an alarm about masculinity in crisis, but concerns about the death of manhood have been around for decades, if not centuries. Pornography isn't new, even if it's now more accessible on the Internet. Many video gamers would protest that gaming is more interpersonally interactive today than ever, and our wired world is used much more for social networking than social detachment. Are entertainment addictions really a more pervasive societal concern for men than rising housing costs and ballooning student loan bills? Is the fact that men are living with their parents longer and postponing marriage and childrearing a sign of "Arma-guy-ddon" or just a smart social adaptation to an economic "man-cession"? Only time will tell.

Manpocalypse:; British Journal of Psychiatry 198, no. 3 (March 2011): 167-68.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Good Men Project - 14 Ways to Tell Your Son “I Love You”

This nice little post comes from the Good Men Project, and it's a nice list of ways for a father to show his that he loves him . . . although, I implore you, fathers, PLEASE use the words as well. No matter their gender, our children need to hear the words, "I love you."

Aside: As I often note about articles I see on other sites, why is it that this post was written by a woman?

What say you, men? How do you tell your son you love him?

14 Ways to Tell Your Son “I Love You”

1. Take him to your favorite restaurant 
Not McDonald’s. Not Burger King. Take him to a real, grown-up sit-down place and share a meal. Trust me: he already knows that this is where you take important people.

2. Let him stay up past his bedtime
And do something together. Stare at the stars. Make fudge. Build a model. Being up with Mom or Dad alone in the dark is a powerful memory.


3. Play Risk with him
Or Monopoly. You know – the kind of game you never have time to play. Just get out the dice and roll.

4. Hug and kiss him
All boys need to be hugged and kissed. Even (or maybe especially) the ones who tell you they don’t.

5. Make his favorite meal
For no apparent reason. He’ll know and appreciate it.

6. Play cars—or dinos or whatever—with him
It’s so hard to find the time to get down on the floor, and so hard to put away your grown-up-sized worries and concerns, but nothing means as much to a boy as playing with him.

7. Don’t complain the next time he comes home muddy
This comes straight from the mouth of my 8 year-old. What more can I say?

8. Watch his favorite movie with him
Pop some popcorn and settle in. His taste in movies probably isn’t exactly the same as yours, but who knows? You might realize you like foreign films.

9. Introduce him to your hobby
Golf, knitting, rock climbing—whatever you do, he knows it’s important to you. Show him the ropes and invite him into your world.

10. Ask him where he’d like to go. Take him.
But feel free to set boundaries. You might be surprised at where he wants to go.

11. Listen to him
Really listen to him the next time he starts talking about his passion. Ask questions. Challenge him. Show genuine interest.

12. Read him your favorite book.

You know, the one you loved when you were a kid. Tell him why you loved it and read out loud, with enthusiasm. He just may see you in a whole new light.

13. Let him help you
Do laundry. Fix the car. You’ll get to spend time together and he’ll learn new skills.

14. Talk calmly, even when he frustrates you
Again—straight from the mouth of my eight-year-old. Keeping a level head shows your son that you respect and value him as a person.

Originally appeared at Blogging ‘Bout Boys

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lana Wachowski's Emotional Coming Out Speech

The video below has been making the rounds on Facebook since it was released last week. It features Lana Wachowski (born as Laurence ["Larry"] Wachowski), one half of the Wachowski directing team that created the Matrix Trilogy and most recently, Cloud Atlas. She first went public with her transition in July of this year, following an operation to correct the biology of her birth.

According to Huffington Post, her process of becoming herself has been a topic of rumors for almost a decade.
Lana's personal life has been a source of headline fodder for years now. 

In 2002, Wachowski was going through a bitter divorce from wife Thea Bloom, as People magazine reported at the time. In 2003, a date Wachowski took to the Cannes Film Festival told the British tabloids that the director was a "cross-dresser."

That same year the Gothamist reported on a column written by movie journalist Dave Poland, alleging that Wachowski was in the process of undergoing a "sex change".

"Every indication I have says that Larry Wachowski is now in the process of changing his sex," Poland wrote. "Dressing in public like a woman, taking female hormones and yes, having a sex change operation."
It's unfortunate that she had to go through this in the public eye - among the transgender clients I have worked with, simply doing this privately and dealing with friends and family is difficult enough. 

Ms. Wochowski gave this 25-minute talk, a very rare appearance on this side of the camera, during an Oct. 20 fundraising dinner for the the Human Rights Campaign in San Francisco. She talks about growing up as a woman living inside a male body, the wrong body, and the abuse and shaming she experienced as she tried to reconcile her gender identity with the biology with which she was born. At one point, she had her suicide planned out.

Fortunately, she never chose that option.

But many transgendered youth do choose suicide. In fact, more than 50% of Transgender youth will have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday. This is a horrible statistic, and one that we can change through awareness of what these young people are going through and support for their identities, including the right to have corrective surgery if that is desired.

Blessings to Lana Wachowski for bravely stepping forward to speak her truth.

You can read about the event here - and there is a good interview with Wachowski here.

Finally, kudos to the Hollywood Reporter for handing this story with compassion and integrity.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

End of Men: The "Feminization" of Psychotherapy

This article comes from Dr. Stephen Diamond's Evil Deeds blog over at Psychology Today. I don't know if I would say that psychotherapy has been feminized, but the percentage of male therapists and counselors (who are not psychiatrists) is probably less than 20% nationwide, and maybe lower if you look at the under-40 cohort [Stephanie Coontz, in her New York Times article said that 81 percent of social workers are now female, up from 64 percent in 1980].

Among the men who do go into counseling, at least from what I have seen here in Tucson, it seems a pretty large percentage of them are gay or bisexual. This should not even be an issue, but for traditionally masculine men it can be a serious issue, not to mention for those who are fundamentalist in their religious beliefs.

Anyway, Dr. Diamond (in response to an article by Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., Is It Really the "End of Men?") looks at the decline of male psychotherapists.

Are we witnessing the extinction of male psychotherapists?

I personally witnessed this insidious shift to a predominantly female demographic during my twenty years of teaching psychotherapy to graduate students. The reasons for men fleeing the field of psychotherapy are many. First, and foremost, is financial. In recent decades it has become  increasingly difficult to earn a decent living as a psychotherapist of any discipline, be it psychiatry, clinical psychology, clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, or counseling. For men, who traditionally have a family to support or must support themselves, the mental health profession, especially private practice, no longer provides a viable source of steady income. Many male psychotherapists dropped out of the profession, finding work in other better paying venues. While this economic crunch equally affected female practitioners too, those women who were not the sole breadwinner for the family or were financially supported by their partners and therefore didn't need to earn as much money were better positioned to enter or remain in the field. But it is not just about money.

Since so many men in our society place such a high value on status and power, and since status and power are closely associated with money, some men choose to pursue status and power in more monetarily rewarding professions than psychotherapy. Psychotherapy was once a fairly lucrative vocation. But not so much now. Moreover, the mental health professions--especially clinical psychology--have significantly lost status and prestige overall. Whereas, at one time, clinical psychologists were seen as distinguished clinical specialists and uniquely qualified providers of treatment, today we are generically lumped together by insurance companies and consumers as merely one of a multitude of non-physician mental health providers who, unlike psychiatrists, cannot prescribe psychotropic medication to patients. (In a few states, clinical psychologists can, with additional post-doctoral training, prescribe such medications, but this is the exception rather than the rule. See my prior post.) Psychiatrists, in contrast to clinical psychologists, are still mostly males, but this too is slowly shifting. One reason that not as many male psychiatrists have fled their profession is that most, perhaps up to ninety percent, exercised their option as physicians to focus on psychopharmacology exclusively, a far more lucrative specialty than psychotherapy could ever be. Hence, their status and power--and income--was preserved. But most clinical psychologists and other non-medical clinicians don't have that dubious and, in some cases, cynical option.

But this alarming phenomenon goes deeper than any one of these single factors, far deeper than former American Psychological Association president Dr. Dorothy Cantor's simplistic assessment cited in Carey's piece: "Usually women get blamed when a profession loses status, but in this case the trend started first, and men just evacuated. . . . Women moved up into the field and took their place." While this is true, it must also be admitted that during that same period there was a pervasive devaluation of the archetypal "masculine" by women, both within and without the mental health profession. Much of this devaluation was a compensatory reaction against the prior denigration of the "feminine" in psychology and psychiatry, starting with Sigmund Freud. (Freud's famous male pupils, Rank and Jung, both tried to counteract this patriarchal prejudice in psychoanalysis by rehabilitating the "feminine" in their own approaches, as did pioneering psychoanalyst Karen Horney.) One manifestation of this devaluation and rejection of the masculine by women can be seen in the relatively recent trend toward females seeking treatment only from female therapists, a gender preference that presumably negatively affected the caseloads--and already plummeting incomes--of male practitioners, since women statistically comprise a greater portion of psychotherapy consumers. (See Chapter Two, "Sex Wars," in my book Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic. and also this excellent article, "Gender Issues in Psychotherapy.")

Does the sex of your psychotherapist really matter? As Carey's timely article notes, there is nothing in the rather limited mainstream scientific literature on gender and treatment outcome suggesting unequivocally that either males or females make better, more effective psychotherapists. (Having said that, the Helsinki Psychotherapy Study [2004] suggests some significant relationship between professional efficacy and personal qualities such as introversion and extraversion, self-confidence, and active vs. passive approaches to treatment.) So individual differences in personality style, some of which are inevitably linked to gender, do impact treatment. A male psychotherapist may be more effective for some patients than others; just as a female may have more success with certain cases than others. Part of this difference does have to do with gender and often unconscious gender psychology. Some male psychotherapists, for example, are fearful or out of touch with their "masculine" aggression, while others are estranged from their "feminine" side and feelings. Some female therapists either overidentify with the "masculine,"or devalue and dissociate it in their own personalities. This can all come into play during treatment, and commonly does so unconsciously in the form of what we call "countertransference" and other blindspots and biases on the psychotherapist's part. (For more on defining the archetypal "masculine" and "feminine" from a Jungian perspective, see my prior post.)

For instance, when women stepped into the void left by men in the field of clinical psychology and other mental health professions, many adopted men's "masculine" perspective and rational orientation to treatment. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a good example of such a highly "masculinized" approach today, one which imputes primacy to rationality and thinking over affect, the unconscious, and the so-called "irrational" (i.e., "feminine" or emotional) aspects of experience. The choice of this one-sidedly logical, mechanistic orientation to treatment represents an overvaluation of the "masculine" and devaluation of the "feminine" in psychotherapy itself. Paradoxically, given the vast popularity of CBT with today's female and few remaining male psychotherapists as opposed to more analytical, humanistic or existential approaches, it is clear that, unfortunately, the "feminization" of the psychotherapy field in terms of gender does not necessarily translate into a more truly "feminine" (i.e., compassionate, caring, affective and relational) orientation to psychotherapy. And, when it does, it tends to be a lopsidedly "feminine," nurturing, soft, passive, supportive approach to treatment in which firm limits, boundaries, diagnosis, structure and confrontation are sorely lacking. Balance between "masculine" and "feminine," between a focus on both feeling and thinking, intellect and experience, rational and irrational, is essential in psychotherapy, whatever the clinician's gender.

One key issue Carey's article touches on has to do with both male aggression and sexuality. Can a female therapist relate adequately to that which is archetypally and instinctually masculine? To the innate, primitive, often intimidating aggression, anger or rage of men? To the unique nature and primal power of male sexuality? Much of that depends, in my estimation, on how conscious and related she is to what Jung called her animus or inner masculinity. And on her own personal experiences with men. For male psychotherapists treating female patients, the same may be said regarding the awareness of and attitude toward their anima or inner femininity. Much like their patients, psychotherapists can suffer unconsciously from either "fear of the feminine" or "fear of the masculine." And unless they have faced that fear in themselves, and its psychological significance, it can be difficult to help others to deal with it.

Still, some men simply don't feel comfortable talking with a female therapist about these intimate matters. Just as some women feel uneasy with male therapists. Now the reasons for this discomfort, for either gender, can be--and, in my experience, often are--neurotic forms of negative transference, resistance or deep-seated distrust and dread of the opposite sex. Or, sometimes, of the same sex. Or one's own sexuality. In many such cases, it may be advisable for the male patient to, despite his reticence, courageously consult a female therapist and work through his anxiety with her as part of the treatment process. Or vice-versa for the fearful female patient. Or for the person who insists on only seeing an opposite sex psychotherapist to work with someone of the same sex. To choose to challenge the conscious or unconscious avoidance. But the fact remains that men and women clinicians have very divergent perspectives, psychologies and life experiences, and each bring something different to the therapeutic table. Not better or worse, superior or inferior. Just different, but equally valuable. This is why it is wisely recommended, and in some analytic training programs required, that therapy trainees undergo two courses of treatment--one with each sex.

Essentially, the best psychotherapy is not merely about eliminating some specific symptom, but confronting one's demons, facing one's fears, discovering one's true self, finding and fulfilling one's destiny. In this sense, psychotherapy is a type of spiritual mentoring and initiation into powerful secret wisdom for dealing with life's most perplexing problems. (See my prior posts.)  In the Arthurian legend of the Holy Grail, Perceval is mentored into knighthood by a wise hermit named Gurnemonz, who served as the model for the wizened and diminutive Yoda in Star Wars. Perceval, whose name means "innocent fool," is a young man destined to find the Holy Grail. But before he can fulfill his personal destiny, he must intensively prepare psychologically, physically and spiritually, a difficult, arduous, painstaking process requiring many years.

Luke Skywalker's secret initiation into Jedi knighthood by both Obi-Wan Kenobe and Master Yoda closely parallels both the psychotherapy process itself and psychological and spiritual development in general. There are similar archetypal examples of initiation of women into the feminine mysteries solely by females. In different cultures around the globe for millennia young men have been initiated into adulthood and the essential secrets of masculinity by men, just as young women have been initiated by women. The time-honored wisdom of such structured, socially sanctioned, transformative rituals suggests that it is crucial to acknowledge and honor the profound differences--both biologically and psychologically-- between men and women, and that there are certain initiatory tasks best conducted by specially prepared members of the same sex. Such painful yet healing  initations or rites of passage are not limited to children approaching puberty or adolescents entering adulthood, but occur also during later stages of psychological development like marriage, child-birth, parenthood, mid-life crisis and old age. ( See, for instance, my prior post "Staring at Sixty.")

Such existential crises and painful rites of passage can differ significantly for males and females. Becoming a mature man is not exactly the same task as becoming a mature woman, and sometimes demands a very different set of skills and values. But, given the current "feminization" of psychotherapy, with the number of female therapists and therapists-in-training far outnumbering males, where will men, already reluctant to seek psychological treatment, go for such much-needed assistance? And, if women dominate the field of psychotherapy completely, what will become of the sacred clinical secrets of masculinity? Who will be the cultural containers and teachers of this sacred masculine wisdom passed down traditionally from one generation of male psychotherapists to the next?  Because of our complementary polar differences, women will always need male psychotherapists, and men female psychotherapists. There are certain wounds inflicted by women on men that only women can help heal, as there are those inflicted on women by men that require a "corrective emotional experience" with a male.

Despite of, or really, because of our profound psychobiological gender differences, we still have a great deal to learn from each other. Female psychotherapists, as women, can provide precious therapeutic perspectives to male patients, and vice-versa. But men will always need mentoring and initiation into manhood mainly by men, and women by women. Now that there is a critical shortage of men remaining in or entering the psychotherapy field, coupled with the scarcity of psychodynamic practitioners in general (see my prior post), consumers have increasingly fewer choices--not only regarding the particular type of mental health treatment they receive, but what gender will provide it. Thie feminization of psychotherapy may be good for women. But can this gender imbalance be good for the profession? I wonder. Women make wonderful psychotherapists. But so do men.

My hope is that, as with the recent signs of renascence of psychodynamic psychotherapy (see, for instance, my forthcoming review of 2012's Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Research for PsycCRITIQUES) now in motion, eventually the gender pendulum will slowly swing back toward middle ground, with men once more being drawn to becoming psychotherapists alongside women. The practice of psychotherapy itself is dying. (See my prior post.) If the profession is to survive, we definitely need men's masculine energy and perspective in clinical psychology to complement that of female practitioners. And vice-versa. But how can we make the psychotherapy profession today more attractive, especially to men? Is it all about money? Prestige? Status? Power? Have men lost touch with their nurturing, giving, caring, compassionate side?  Have we brutishly become more materialistic and selfish than women? Too technical, mechanistic or mercenary? Have men lost their faith in psychotherapy? Or have men in the field of psychotherapy simply surrendered to women in the proverbial war of the sexes? Resolutely accepted defeat and withdrawn from the field of battle?

Is this really the "end of men" in general? Is what we are seeing in the mental health professions merely a symptom or sign of a much more pervasive trend in American culture? (See PT blogger Mark Sherman's review of a recent book by Hanna Rosin titled The End of Men here. See also a response by another PT blogger, Melissa Kirk here.) Reader comments, as always, are welcome on this particularly exquisitely sensitive subject.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Revolutionizing Fat Loss with Interval Weight Training

More and more research shows that interval training is superior to steady-state cardio for fat loss. There is also increasing evidence that doing intervals with weights can both build muscle or strength and burn body fat.

The first piece is a brief podcast from Scientific American on a new study supporting the benefits of interval training. The second piece is from Men's Health, a two-exercise interval workout that will build strength and burn fat.

A healthy body is necessary for a healthy mind and a healthy life.

Short Interval Training Burns Big Calories

Active young men burned 200 more calories on days when they did five 30-second sprints on an exercise bike. Christopher Intagliata reports.

60-Second Science

Listen to this Podcast


Listen to this Podcast

Want to exercise, but don't have enough time? Forget slogging half an hour on the treadmill. You can burn the same number of calories with a few quick sprints on an exercise bike. So says a study presented at a meeting of the American Physiological Society. [Kyle Sevits et al., A Single Session of Sprint Interval Training Increases Total Daily Energy Expenditure]
Researchers studied 10 active young men. For three days, the men ate an energy-balanced diet--meaning calories in matched calories out. Then, still on the diet, each guy spent two days living in a sealed chamber, so researchers could monitor oxygen and CO2 levels—a way of exactly calculating calories burned.
Just hanging out watching TV, the guys burned 2,200 calories a day. But they burned 200 more on days when they did five 30-second sprints on an exercise bike. Now, these were not laid-back efforts. The guys pedaled as hard as they could, and had to take four-minute rest breaks in between.
Previous studies show that sprint training like this improves the body's response to blood sugar, possibly helping to stave off diabetes. And the researchers say it may be an alternative to endurance exercise for burning calories. That is, if you don't mind really feeling the burn. —Christopher Intagliata [The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]
* * * * *

The Ultimate Two-Exercise Workout

Posted Date: June 22, 2012 

A couple of month's ago, I asked Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S.—one of the world's top trainers—to create a cutting-edge fat loss program for Men's Health. And, of course, he obliged. But a curious thing: One of the workouts in the plan featured just two exercises.

That's right: When asked to create a super-effective, calorie-torching routine, Cosgrove gave us a workout that had readers do only a dumbbell swing and a squat thrust. This confused some folks, who wondered, "How can you lose fat with just two exercises?"

Cosgrove's response: "Running is just one exercise, but no one questions that when it comes to burning fat." 

He makes a good point. And in fact, once you understand the philosophy behind Cosgrove's routine, you start to see why it works so well. But first, an explanation of the actual routine itself.

Here's how it works: You do 15 repetitions of the kettlebell swing (you can also use a dumbbell for this), followed immediately by 15 reps of the squat thrust. (See below for descriptions of both exercises.) Without resting, do 14 reps of the swing and then 14 reps of the squat thrust. Continue this pattern until you complete only one rep of each exercise. This is called a countdown workout.

Sure, that's just two exercises, but do the math: If you complete the entire routine—from 15 down to 1—you'll do 120 repetitions of each exercise. That's 240 repetitions. And these aren't just any exercises: They're movements that challenge your entire body. 

They're also done at a fast pace. On average, it'll only take you about three seconds per rep. So you'll do those 240 reps in just 12 minutes or so. That'll light your muscles on fire, and have you gasping for air (in a good way).

If you think that sounds too easy or too fast, I suggest you try it. You may find you can't even finish. But that's okay—you can just start with a lower number, like 8, and work your way up as you improve your fitness. (In fact, I recommend this strategy.) If you want an even greater challenge, you can always take a breather and repeat the routine.

Remember: Whether you're running or lifting, your muscles require energy to help you move. And this workout forces more of your muscles into action than you'd ever use while jogging for the same duration. It'll also boost your metabolism for hours after your workout.

What's more, unlike jogging, these aren't joint-pounding exercises. So this is actually a "low-impact" workout that you can do at a high intensity, making it ideal for overweight folks. The best part: You can do the routine without even leaving your house, since all you need is a single kettlebell or dumbbell.

How to do the countdown workout: Do 8 reps of the kettlebell swing, followed immediately by 8 reps of the squat thrust. Without resting, do 7 reps of the kettlebell swing, and then 7 reps of the squat thrust, and so on, until you work your way down to 1. A reminder: Don’t overdo it. If your form breaks down during the routine, just stop there. Then next time, adjust your starting point so that you can work all the way down to one without having to stop. As you become better conditioned, start with a higher number. An important note: This isn't a complete workout program, but it is a great routine that you can do almost anywhere, anytime. And it's a fantastic substitute for 15 minutes on the treadmill.

Kettlebell (or Dumbbell) Swing

Bend at your hips and hold a kettlebell (or dumbbbell) with both hands at arm’s length in front of you. Now rock back slightly and “hike” kettlebell between your legs. Then squeeze your glutes, thrust your hips forward forcefully, and swing the weight to shoulder height. Allow momentum to swing the weight—you're not trying to actively lift it with your arms. Reverse the movement, so that you swing the kettlebell between your legs again. Make sure you don't round your lower back at any time; it should stay naturally arched when you bend at your hips. Continue to swing back and forth. Watch the video below to see fitness expert David Jack show you how to do the kettlebell swing with perfect form.

Squat Thrust

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Bending at your hips and knees, squat down and lower your body until you can place your hands on the floor. Kick your legs backward—into a pushup position—and then immediately reverse the move and quickly stand up from the squat. That's 1 rep. To make the exercise even more challenging, you can jump up from the squat instead of simply standing up quickly. Watch the video below to see strength coach David Jack do the squat thrust.

Want to learn more?  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D. - When Men Are Raped

Contrary to what the author of this study reports, I am proud to say that SACASA (Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault), where I work as a trauma therapist, has been seeing male survivors or rape, assault, molestation, and incest for most of its existence, beginning with the Tucson Rape Crisis Center in the late 1970s.

The numbers reported here a bit low, from what I have seen - around 11-15% of all rapes are of males, with 85-89% female victims. [If male rapes in prison and/or the military were accurately reported, I suspect these numbers would be much different.] From what I have seen personally, there is definitely a higher percentage of gay and bisexual (and possibly MTF transgender) survivors, with most being under 25 when they first seek services with our agency.

We work hard to include information on male victims, especially young boys and teens, in our community outreach and education, but I suspect there are still a lot of myths about men and rape, as this article suggests and tries to remedy.

Being sexually assaulted is not something that only happens to women

The trauma that women who have been sexually victimized is well-known, both in terms of the emotional consequences of the assault itself as well as the pain associated with trying to obtain justice afterward. While men are usually the perpetrators of sexual violence and women are usually the victims, that is not always the case however.  

Actual incidence of sexual assault involving adult male victims has always been difficult to estimate. Victim surveys of British and American males have shown that 3 to 8 per cent of males reported at least one adulthood incidence of sexual assault in their lifetimes with at least 5 to 10 per cent of all rape victims being male (Pino & Meier, 1990;   Coxell & King, 1999). These numbers can be substantially higher for non-heterosexual males though.  One 2005 study reported that 13.2 per cent of bisexual males and 11.2 per cent of gay men reported at least one instance of sexual assault as adults. Still, those numbers are almost certainly underestimate the reality considering most male victims are reluctant to report their sexual assault to the police. While the majority of these crimes are committed by male offenders, an estimated 6 to 15 per cent of these sexual assaults can involve female perpetrators (either working independently or in association with male co-offenders). 

But why has male sexual assault been so often marginalized in many societies?   According to a provocative new literature review recently published in Psychology of Men and Masculinity,  the problem may stem from various “myths” surrounding male rape. The review authors, Jessica A. Turchik of Stanford Medical School and Katie M. Edwards of Ohio University,  focus on a series of common rape myths that often prevent male victim from reporting their assault and can even make police officers refuse to take their complaint seriously. The myths include:
  • Men cannot be raped
  • “Real” men can defend themselves against rape
  • Only gay men are victims and/or perpetrators of rape
  • Men are not affected by rape (or not as much as women)
  • A woman cannot sexually assault a man
  • Male rape only happens in prisons
  • Sexual assault by someone of the same sex causes homosexuality
  • Homosexual and bisexual men deserve to be sexually assaulted because they are immoral and deviant
  • If a victim physically responds to a sexual assault, he must have wanted it.
Many of these myths are frequently reported in social psychological reviews of male and female rape. Found across different cultures, they often reflect common attitudes about male sexuality. Since most media coverage on rape focuses on female victims with any reporting of male rape tending to be lurid (and often sarcastic), it is probably not surprising that male rape myths persist over time.   

Media representations of male rape (such as in movies like “Deliverance” and graphic scenes of rape in prison) certainly reinforce these attitudes. Even laws relating to sexual assault have shown a clear gender bias at times with rape being defined as female-only in many jurisdictions (such as in Canada before the Criminal Code was revised during the 1980s).    

Considering how common male rape myths are, it is probably not surprising that studies of law enforcement officers, medical students, and even rape crisis workers have shown these same attitudes towards sexual assault involving male victims. While homophobia can often account for gay rape victims being more likely to be blamed than heterosexual victims of sexual assault,  there is also a strong correlation between believing rape myths involving both male and female victims. In other words, people who believe common myths about male rape are likely to believe myths about female rape as well.

Whatever the cause, persistent attitudes about male rape are found in large segments of the general population and can have devastating consequences for men who have been victimized. Not only are victims far less likely to report the crime but those victims courageous enough to come forward can face a horrendous lack of support from the criminal justice system and even from those agencies that provide assistance for female victims of sexual assault.   

Although crisis center and hospital records have consistently shown that 3 to 12 per cent of reported sexual assault involve male victims,  one study from the 1990s indicate that as many as 37 per cent of rape crisis centres restrict services to females only. I am not aware of any more recent studies to suggest that this has changed substantially over time.

As Turchik and Edwards point out in their review, the negative attitudes spurred on by myths surrounding male rape are well-established among medical professionals, the courts, police officers, the military, and even the prison system and spring from the same patriarchal systems that reinforce negative attitudes about female rape. While more sensitive reporting has helped change attitudes towards female rape, whether these same changes will encourage male victims to come forward is another question.

Though prison rape and sexual assault of underage males have been forced into the open as more high-profile cases are reported, the prevalence of male rape myths in our society and the attitudes about male sexuality that they reflect are much slower to change. That these changes need to happen and resources need to be put in place to help both men and women who experience sexual assault is something that we must face, both as a society and as individuals.

For simple justice, if nothing else.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood" by Carlos Andres Gomez - The Secret Lives of Men Podcast

This week on the Secret Lives of Men podcast, Dr. Chris Blazina talks with actor, poet, and author Carlos Andres Gomez about his new book, Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood.

From the Amazon book description:
Inspired by the award-winning poet and actor’s acclaimed one-man play, a powerful coming-of-age memoir that redefines masculinity for the twenty-first-century male.

Award-winning poet, actor, and writer Carlos Andrés Gómez is a supremely gifted storyteller with a captivating voice whose power resonates equally on the live stage and on the page. In one of his most moving spoken-word poems, Gómez recounts a confrontation he once had after accidentally bumping into another man at a club. Just as they were about to fight, Gómez experienced an unexplainable surge of emotion that made his eyes well up with tears. Everyone at the scene jumped back, as if crying, or showing vulnerability, was the most insane thing that Gómez could possibly have done.

Like many men in our society, Gómez grew up believing that he had to be ready to fight at all times, treat women as objects, and close off his emotional self. It wasn’t until he discovered acting that he began to see the true cost of squelching one’s emotions—and how aggression dominates everything that young males are taught.

Statistics on graduation rates, employment, and teen and young-adult suicide make it clear that the young males in our society are at a crisis point, but Gómez seeks to reverse these ominous trends by sharing the lessons that he has learned. Like Hill Harper’s Letters to a Young Brother, Man Up will be an agent for positive change, galvanizing men—but also mothers, girlfriends, wives, and sisters—to rethink and redefine the way all men interact with women, deal with violence, handle fear, and express emotion.

Here's the podcast:

"Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood" by Carlos Andres Gomez

CARLOS ANDRES GOMEZ is an award-winning writer and performer from New York City. A former social worker in Harlem and the south Bronx and public school teacher in Philadelphia and Manhattan, Gomez has performed at more than 200 colleges and universities and toured across North America, Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and named Artist of the Year at the 2009 Promoting Outstanding Writers Awards, he co-starred in Spike Lee's #1 movie "Inside Man" with Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, and Clive Owen and appeared on the sixth season of HBO's "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry."
Listen to internet radio with Secret Lives of Men on Blog Talk Radio

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shrink Rap Radio #322 – Mastering Resilience with Dennis Charney MD

On this week's Shrink Rap Radio, Dr. David Van Nuys interviews Dr. Dennis Charney, a specialist in the psychobiological mechanisms of human resilience to stress. His most recent book is Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges.

Resilience is a special issue for men, we tend to be less resilient than our female peers. Overall, more males are conceived, fewer males are born (but still slightly more than females), and by age 45 or 50, females are more plentiful. In the U.S., there are five million more women than men in the 65 and older age group.

A little more on male fragility:
Boys in the U.S. have a 29 percent higher prenatal death rate2 and are 20 percent more vulnerable to infant mortality up to age one.3   Boys tend to be more at risk than girls of being born with birth defects, perhaps because boys tend to develop at a slower pace, leaving more time for potential problems to arise.4 

As of 2005, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 80.4 for women and 75.2 for men.  That means men, on average, die 5.2 years earlier than women.5.  This phenomenon is world-wide.  Women outlive men almost everywhere in the world.
The article goes on to list a variety of factors, some biological (chromosomes, hormones, immune system, iron overload, and natural selection), as well as several socio-cultural factors (cultural conditioning, social standing).

One of the cultural conditioning factors is what we might call "traditional masculinity."
Differences in what is expected of men and women contribute to variations in mortality. Certain behaviors that are discouraged in women are condoned or even rewarded in men.  Men's higher rates of cigarette smoking, heavy drinking, gun use, and risk taking in recreation and driving are partially responsible for their higher death rate.10   Also,men tend to work in more dangerous settings than women and account for 90 percent of on-the-job fatalities.11   Throughout life,men are conditioned to hide feelings of sadness or pain and not to reach out for help.  They are less likely to seek medical attention, less likely to seek psychological treatment and more likely to commit suicide.  Men take their own lives at nearly four times the rate of females and represent 79.4% of all U.S. suicides.12
Men have a series of biological hurdles to get over, but there is still a lot we can do to improve our resilience.

#322 – Mastering Resilience with Dennis Charney MD

A psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.

copyright 2012: David Van Nuys, Ph.D.

Dennis S. Charney, MD is Dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of The Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Dr. Charney is a world expert in the neurobiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. He has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of neural circuits and neurochemistry related to human anxiety, fear, mood as well AS THE discovery of new treatment for mood and anxiety disorders. He later expanded this area into pioneering research related to the psychobiological mechanisms of human resilience to stress.

Early in his career, Dr. Charney led a team that determined that the biology of human anxiety disorders were characterized by excessive noradrenergic activity and dysfunction in specific neural circuits including the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus. His work in depression led to new hypotheses regarding the mechanisms of antidepressant drugs and discovery of new and novel therapies for treatment resistant depression including Lithium and Ketamine, which works within hours.

After decades of work on the biology of anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Dr. Charney and colleagues have turned their attention toward investigating the psychobiological mechanisms of human resilience to stress. They have found specific hormones and peptides which contribute to resilience and identified a prescription for enhancing human resilience.
A prolific author, Dr. Charney has written more than 700 publications, including groundbreaking scientific papers, chapters, and books. Dr. Charney’s most recent book is Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges.

Check out the following Psychology CE Courses based on listening to Shrink Rap Radio interviews:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lance Armstrong - The Fall of an American Hero

It's now official - Lance Armstrong has been stripped of all of his cycling results from August 1st 1998 forward, including the record seven Tours de France that he had won. He is also permanently banned from cycling and any World Anti-Doping Agency sanctioned events, including his new hobby of triathlons. 

I have some thoughts about all of this that may counter to a lot of what is in the press and posted online. First, however, here is the case against Armstrong as revealed so far, with a lot of links so you can read the material yourself and form your own opinion - after that, I will explain my perspective.
“The UCI will not appeal to the court of Arbitration for Sport, and it will recognise USADA’s sanction against Lance Armstrong,” said UCI President Pat McQuaid, who spoke forcefully about the fight against doping. “The UCI will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling and the UCI will strip him of his seven Tour de France titles. Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling.”

McQuaid said that it will also recognised the USADA’s sanctions on the riders who testified, and thanked them to for that. He said that the UCI will set up a structure to examine the doping situation which had happened, and will take measures to safeguard the sport from experiencing the same sort of problems as before.

On August 23rd, Armstrong was handed a lifetime ban from sport by USADA plus had all of his results since August 1998 taken away. The sanction was handed down after he decided not to fight the doping charges made against him by the agency.

The reasoned decision included over one thousand pages of evidence, including sworn testimony from 26 individuals. Of that number, eleven were former team-mates of Armstrong, namely Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leiphimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.

Other details contained included what USADA described as ‘direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong.’

Its CEO Travis Tygart said that the management of the US Postal Service team ‘ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.’

“The USPS Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices,” he elaborated. “A program organized by individuals who thought they were above the rules and who still play a major and active role in sport today.”

Last week, many of Armstrong’s sponsors including Trek, Giro and Nike have announced that they were ending their relationship with him. He also resigned as chairman of the Livestrong foundation.

The director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, will not reassign the seven victories vacated by Armstrong - but he does expect Armstrong to repay the approximately three million he won in that race over the years.
Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France, has confirmed that he does not want Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories reassigned after the UCI ratified the USADA verdict to ban the Texan and disqualify him from results going back to August 1998.

Prudhomme also said that he expects Armstrong to pay back his estimated three million dollars he won in the race.

“There won’t be a winner. The formal decision will be taken by the UCI on Friday but for us, it’s very clear; we want to leave the palmares blank,” Prudhomme told the Reuters news agency after hearing Pat McQuaid speaking during his Geneva press conference.
You can read the full accounts of investigations at Sports Illustrated (this is the January, 2011 story - there is a newer version in the current issue), the New York Daily News (a good review of all the allegations that we made over the last decade and a half), and the New York Times. Finally, Cycling News, one of the premier sites for professional cycling, has posted a list off all the doping allegations against Armstrong and his teams that they have reported over the years.

Since the USADA decision was released, more and more stories have been surfacing from people who likely felt unable to speak out in the past due to the threats of retaliation (including lawsuits) for which Armstrong was known. One recent story uncovered by CBS News reports that Armstrong bribed a rider from another team to ensure that he (Armstrong) would a $1 million prize for a three race series. He won, and paid the rider as agreed. Another story contends that Armstrong was warned prior to all doping controls, which made it easy for him to use masking agents or other means of appearing clean.

There is also evidence that Armstrong and Nike, his biggest sponsor, had paid $500,000 to former UCI president Hein Verbruggen to cover up a positive drug test. Both Armstrong and Nike have denied that there was a positive test or a payment to Verbruggen.

Those who know Armstrong believe he will never admit to doping, as have so many of his former teammates. As Josh Levin points out in Slate, in refusing to fight the charges, and by extension giving up his seven Tour de France titles, "he’s keeping what he prizes most: his righteous indignation."

* * * * * * *

This is from Armstrong in one of his Nike commercials:
This is my body, and I can do whatever I want to it. I can push it. Study it. Tweak it. Listen to it. Everybody wants to know what I'm on. What am I on? I'm on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?
* * * * * * *

This quote offers the key, in my opinion, to understanding who Armstrong is and why he did the things he has done. It reflects both his incredible desire to win, by manipulating his body in any way he can, and the fact that he seriously worked his ass off to be the best cyclist in a peloton filled with other cyclists who were using banned substances as well.

I have no problem with Armstrong having used performance enhancing drugs - every other top rider in that era was also using chemical assistance, and as far as I am concerned, all of it should be legal and monitored by doctors to ensure the safety of the riders (or other athletes).

If you have done a 100 mile ride (like the El Tour de Tucson, which is 109 miles for the top riders), you know how grueling that can be and how hard on the body it is, even if you are in shape and adequately trained. Now imagine doing that for 19 out 21 days, including time trials and some of the steepest mountain climbs in the world. You might be tempted to use drugs, too, to get through those three weeks, especially if you wanted to be competitive in cycling's most prestigious event.

Here is where I have a problem, as revealed in the testimony of several former Armstrong teammates:
Christian Vande Velde testified to being pressured to stick to the program given to him by Dr. Michele Ferrari in 2001, one that "involved regular use of EPO and testosterone", he stated.

But his fears of needles and of being caught meant he was reluctant to follow the program. He was not selected for the 2002 Tour de France and was told by Armstrong, "if I wanted to continue to ride for the Postal Service team I would have to use what Dr. Ferrari had been telling me to use and would have to follow Dr. Ferrari's program to the letter.

"Johan Bruyneel confirmed this a few days later ... and said he expected to see improvement."

Vande Velde left the team in 2003 for the Liberty Seguros team, which he stated "had an organised doping program as well". After moving to CSC in 2005, and in the absence of "the pressure of an organised doping program, I decided I would only continue in the sport if I could ride clean." He stated he stopped doping in April, 2006.

Zabriskie describes coming into the sport at the time of the Festina affair in 1998, and testified, "I knew I did not want to use drugs". He was reassured by current USA Cycling president Steve Johnson (then with a performance lab), who said the sport was cleaning up.

By 2000, he caught the attention of Bruyneel with a win in the U23 GP des Nations. He was hired on at $40,000, but refused to participate in "recovery injections". In 2001, he was begging to keep his job, accepting a drop in salary to $15,000 just to stay. In 2002, he began using the injections, because "I came to believe it was just vitamins".

Although he joked about EPO on the team bus earlier, Zabriskie testified that he was reluctant to succumb to its use until finally, when his teammate Barry decided to give in, Zabriskie did as well in 2003.

After leaving US Postal in 2004, Zabriskie moved to CSC, during which time he used doping products growth hormone and testosterone several times, but then in June, 2006 he stated he quit doping for good,

Danielson testified to using EPO and blood transfusions on the Discovery Channel team (after taking a pay cut from $200,000 as a neo-pro with Fassa Bortolo to $125k to join Armstrong's team) in 2005, only beginning to get scared of doping in 2007 when the program shifted to blood doping.

"I began to worry that my blood would be mistaken for someone else's," Danielson testified. "The more I thought about it, the more worried I became.

"I found the whole process to be almost emotionally paralyzing," he said, admitting that he got so paranoid that he began to have panic attacks and was given a sedative on the last night of the 2007 Vuelta a España.

"I continued to experience anxiety attacks and have trouble finishing well in races. As a result, I stopped doping in 2007. He then left to join Vaughters' team "where I knew I would be more comfortable competing clean."
Vande Velde, Zabriske, and other rides have described an atmosphere where they were pressured and coerced to use drugs and banned methods (blood transfusions) - and Armstrong was instrumental in leveling that pressure on his teammates.

Again, I have no problem with Armstrong choosing to do drugs, as many other riders have done (including Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie), but when he and Bruyneel pressure and coerce other riders to do the same, then I have a real problem.

The decision to cheat, and even more the decision to risk one's health with performance enhancing drugs, has to be a personal choice and a freely made decision. When you cut a rider's salary from $40K a year to $15K because that rider (Zabriske) does not want to use the drugs, that is wrong on many levels.

And then there is the ferocity with which Armstrong went after anyone who dared to expose his drug use and tactics. He was infamous for suing anyone who spoke out, or intimidating, threatening, and even (in the case of Tyler Hamilton) physically intimidating (assaulted?) those people.

From the New York Daily News:
Doping might sometimes be a victimless crime, but not in the case of Lance Armstrong, whose drug abuse and illicit blood transfusions created a phony empire of wealth, adulation and power that had to be protected at all costs.

The Armstrong myth was so lucrative that suppressing the truth came to require an endless behind-the-scenes campaign to bully and intimidate people into silence. Some of it bordered on gangsterism. Some of it was dressed up in the respectable wardrobe of elite law firms. But mostly it was just hot air - a fact that by 2010 had become clear enough to Floyd Landis that he stepped up and burst the bubble, blowing the whistle on the whole big fraud.

Armstrong is undoubtedly the most talented and exceptional cyclist of his generation - yes, he was doped, but he was doped in a peloton of doped cyclists. He was just better at it than all the others. 

It's too bad he resorted to doping and intimidation to make himself the best. He was naturally gifted enough to compete even with athletes using drugs, he just wanted a short-cut to the top. Rather than become more innovative in his training, he sought the chemical cocktail to the front of the peloton.

The greatest loss in all this, however, is for the cancer patients - current and in the future - who no longer have a role model to look up to for inspiration. Further, there is no way this will not impact the ability of the Livestrong Foundation to raise money for cancer research. Armstrong has helped raise more than $500 million over the years since he founded Livestrong, and for this alone he should be an American hero - no single person can claim anything near that in helping to cure a disease. But even this achievement will be tarnished by Armstrong's association with cheating.

He may have cheated death in surviving cancer, but he could cheat pro cycling without eventually falling victim to his own hubris and ego.