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Lots of my male patients don’t suffer from clinical depression so much as from  spiritual depression. They have “male malaise”. Their lives don’t let them express masculine libido (meaning psychic energy) or they have lost vision to do so.

Modern man’s desire (or obligation) to be a kinder and gentler fellow is fine but the archaic standards of masculinity remain. These can’t be denied; they must be recognized as there, not going away, and in need of expression.

When the chips are down or the way is rough, ‘real men’ are still called upon to rise to the occasion.  As one of my patients said: ‘It’s still the man’s job to kill the bug”.

My male patients then wonder what makes a “real man” these days? What I tell them is the following:

First of all there is a difference between being a “good man” and being good at being a man. What constitutes a good man is often defined by culture and religion. What I’m talking about here are the archetypal masculine energies which transcend time and culture.

I give my patients the acronym “CHUMS”. These five virtues* are what constitutes being a real man. They are Courage, Honor, Ur, Mastery, and Strength.

strong-man-lift-weights-white-background-29941361Strength – I will argue strength – both physical and mental – is still something worthwhile and vital for men. I often tell the depressed male patient to go to they gym and start to lift weights, tone up, get off the flab, etc. for better self esteem and mental wellbeing.

400-04338058 © antonbrand Model Release: No Property Release: No Cartoon knight in armour with a spear. He is isolated on white

Courage – When things are bad or threatening, we admire the men who rise to the occasion to provide and protect. In any disaster or assault or war we look to the men who do their duty.  Imagine a household in which there is a threat (from an intruder down to an insect). Having the woman of the house fight off the threat while the man stays back arises distaste in either sex. Women can confess they are scared or are cowards but this is a horrible thing in a man. Being called a coward is still one of the worst things a man wants to hear.

A_Colorful_Cartoon_Carpenter_Building_a_Doll_House_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_101120-137284-126053Mastery – Men need to have skills at something to feel good. These are the “do-it-himself” types or the professionals who have long labored to have talent Men admire the men who can do something well, whether in sports or at building furniture. Again, a woman can laugh at being a inept and turn to another woman to say oh, I’m just no good at this, you do it’. This is a bad in a man.  A man wants to be admired for his mastery whether in his expertise at grilling or his skill at chess.

Spc. Santiago J. Erevia is awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. President Obama awarded 24 Army veterans the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in recognition of their valor during major combat operations in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Honor – is probably the heart of positive masculine libido. Strength, courage, and mastery are subsets of honor, for they lead to honor. Men want and need the respect of peers and their underlings. The first is call horizontal honor; the later vertical honor. This virtue is more complex and challenging than the others for honor is something you can’t do yourself; it is something you earn. You can work on becoming strong, having good skills, and being brave, but it is your peers and underlings who bestow honor.  This is an entry in itself.

live_lust_love_life_mug-rb3fca7a4941f434a8f75c0f104330046_x7j1p_8byvr_324Ur – I confess I needed some virtue that begins with ‘U”. “Ur” means something early, primitive, basic, or original.  This is a reference to the inner passion of men, their lust for life, love, and work. The Greeks called it ‘thumos’; others call it ‘passion’. Thumos or Ur discriminates the mindless soldier from the warrior,  the brute from someone strong in marital arts. It’s the least defined of the five manly virtues. It is more obvious when it is missing. Think of the colorless man going through the motions, a nice fellow but without zest.

So, when a emasculated depressed patient needs boosting, I give him CHUMS and encourage him to master a new skill. I encourage him to take better care of himself and get into shape. I root for him to develop passion for something like social justice and truth. Start a journey of finding a peer group. Nourish admiration at work with through attitude and hard work. Honor will hopefully follow. I find my ability to admire – yes honor – his attempts is sometimes the only empowering feature in his life. He is not getting this at work where he is only a cog. His family doesn’t provide, and he hasn’t a peer network. This admiration and masculine nurturance often does more than any prescription.

* The word “virtue” comes from the latin ‘vir’ for man. Think of virility. It’s curious and perhaps a bit disappointing the manly word virtue is used more often sole to describe a woman’s fidelity and purity.


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