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A Deliberate Rejection of “Traditional” Men

Tags: , , , , boys, culture, gender, MARRI, men, Pat Fagan, Uncategorized No comments

The last blog before the Christmas/New Year break was “Rebuilding our nation, one son at a time” which laid out the work a father implicitly takes on with the birth of his child.  Since then the American Psychological Association (APA) issued Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Men and Boys, causing an uproar among “traditional value” folk who felt (reasonably so, as a quick read of the preamble and the titles of the guidelines will indicate). Two practicing psychologists have severe critiques that give substance to concerns of the layfolk: Dr. Sean Smith of Denver and Dr. Leonard Sax (psychologist and physician) of Maryland. That many of the members of APA likely agree with them is beside the point. The leadership of APA is determined to push the nation in a direction abhorrent to most of its citizens.

In reaction to the backlash APA issued a statement that some see as backpedaling but is in reality a digging in their heels: the president of APA and the two most recent past presidents weigh in on the side of the guidelines.

The three APA presidents state:

“We honor and respect the overwhelmingly majority of boys and men who aim to live fully human lives while valuing the dignity of all others. In short, Division 51 [author of the Guidelines] of the American Psychological Association believes the following:

Division 51 seeks to recognize and promote pathways for boys and men to live healthy and positive lives, [emphasis added] and also to identify and redress the effects of restrictive masculinities[1]. We do this through psychological science, education, advocacy, and clinical practice. In doing so, we aim to promote equality for people of all genders.”

This is not true. 

Let me give preliminary background before presenting the evidence to support my harsh retort: The guidelines are part of a set.  The other part is the almost-identical-twin guidelines for Psychological Practice with Women and Girls, issued in 2007. Two large working groups put in over 30 years of study, meetings, conferences and publications, all aimed at producing these two documents.  This is serious, deliberate project by a lot of highly intelligent, highly educated people, all of whom claim to be scientists, and members of a world-ranking organization that weighs in often as a scientific organization, e.g. in its Supreme Court amici briefs.

What is the evidence that the statement of the three presidents is not true?  In neither set of Guidelines nor in any of the years of research, conferences nor publications leading up to them, is there even the slightest attempt to “recognize and promote pathways for boys and men to live healthy and positive lives” in the traditional way of marriage and the regular practice of the worship of God (manifested in all cultures, over all of history).  Nowhere in any of the text of the two Guidelines, nor in any of the science cited, is there any indication that they acknowledge this widest of pathways, which is as visible as a 12-lane highway.  The data is staring them in the face, and is overwhelming in every federal survey,  but they treat these uncomfortable facts with that sort of contempt which makes itself clear when one turns one’s back on another. This is deliberate, not an oversight.   Also, it shows a total lack of interest in real social science, which will let the data fall where it will.

I like Dr. Sean Smith’s advice: If you need a psychologist (and there are many great psychologists, doing great and needed work), make sure to ask him (or her) about his stance on these guidelines. If he does not give a firm “NO — I do not support or agree with them” walk away from him and find a trust-worthy psychologist, one who will honor you and the traditions from which you come.

In sum these guidelines are an abuse of both therapists and clients: Placing ideology above the needs of vulnerable people in trouble seeking help.


[1] “Masculinities” is a neologism to be rejected and challenged whenever thrust upon you. It embodies the radical agenda within its meaning.