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  • Writer's pictureJack Mayhall

Masculinity in a Modern Age

Initiation is equivalent to a basic change in existential condition; the novice emerges from his ordeal endowed with a totally different being from that which he possessed before his initiation; he has become another. Mircea Eliade

The crisis in masculinity is very much upon us. Lacking adequate models of mature men, and lacking the societal cohesion and institutional structure, it’s pretty much “every man for himself.” Most of us fall by the wayside, with no idea what went wrong in our gender driven strivings. We seek generative, affirming, empowering initiatory guidance into mature manhood, though most don’t get it.

As evidenced recently with anger expressed tragic violence, with deprivation of the feminine, and with political posturing at the expense of a naïve nation, the masculine principle is failing. More generally, modern society has abdicated its responsibilities by losing its ceremonies of initiation and rites designed to ease important life transitions. Some scholars, such as Eric Neumann have stressed that this characteristic of modern society contributes to our modern sense of alienation and angst:...collective rites no longer exist, and the problems relating to transitions devolve upon the individual...This is the case not only in childhood but also in puberty, in marriage and mid-life, at the climacteric, and in the hour of death. All these stages in life were formerly numinous points at which the collectivity intervened with its rites; today they are points of psychic illness and anxiety for the individual, whose awareness does not suffice to enable him to live his life…...However, there is good news. The clinical staff at The Center aspires to the analytical belief that inside of all of us resides a template for wholeness, maturity, meaning, and purpose. The trick of course is to learn how to access this powerful tool.

Two of our male therapists are taking on that task, Sean Mouradian and Ernesto Cruz are starting a men’s group with the goal of helping men traverse the liminal stages leading to mature manhood. Contemporary as well as ancient archetypal dynamics will be explored allowing for participants to experience phase of life transitions safely through emotional expression via language (not acting-out through anger). The way in which one handles such transitions is centrally important in shaping human development. By placing effort on improving our patriarchal position, moving it from a boy psychology to a more mature masculine psychology, we as mental health practitioners can help alleviate the ill-effectives of the enraged masculine.

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