Energy Medicine for Men: What Every Boomer Woman Should Know About Helping Her Man Eliminate Stress from His Life
Energy Medicine for Men: What Every Boomer Woman Should Know About Helping Her Man Eliminate Stress from His Life
By Jed Diamond, Ph.D., LCSW
NABBW’s Male Menopause Expert
Here\’s What You Must Know About Boomer Men’s Silent Health Crisis
The Men’s Health Network (MHN) is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to educate men and their families about the state of men’s health today and how it can be improved. MHN details the “silent health crisis” of men as follows:
1. Life Expectancy Gender Gap
In 1920, the life expectancy gender gap was only 1.0 year. But here we are in 2011 and men are dying 4 to 6 years sooner than women. This significant increase means more women than ever will be widows before they die.
2. Leading Causes of Death
Men have a higher death rate than women for all ten of the leading causes of death: Heart disease, cancer, injuries, cerebrovascular disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, diabetes, pneumonia/flu, HIV infection, suicide, and homicide.
3. Heart Disease
Almost twice as many men as women die of ischemic heart disease, the leading cause of death, by far, for both men and women. This year, over 400,000 men will die of heart disease, 25% of whom are under age 65. More than 50,000 men will die of a stroke.
50% more men than women die of cancer. This year over 700,000 men will be diagnosed with cancer and nearly 300,000 will die of it. Over the course of a lifetime, half of all men will get cancer at least once.
Men\’s chances of being a victim of homicide are 1 in 30 for black males compared to 1 in 179 for white males. (That’s almost 600% higher risk for black males vs. white males). Your chance of being a killed is 1 in 132 if you are a black female compared to 1 in 195 if you are a white female. Whether you are black or white, you are more likely to be killed if you are male than if you are female.
6. Depression and Suicide
Suicide is the ultimate indicator of despair and men suffer at rates more than 4 to 17 times higher than women. Not only do men commit suicide at rates much higher than women, but they kill themselves indirectly as well. Psychotherapist Terrence Real, author of I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression says: “Hidden depression drives several of the problems we think of as typically male: physical illness, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, failures in intimacy, self-sabotage in careers.”
Most people know that men commit suicide more often than women. But most are not aware of how much more likely men are apt to kill themselves than are women or how men\’s risk differs with age. “The suicide rate is 4 times higher among males than females overall,” says Will Courtenay, author of Dying to be Men: Psychosocial, Environmental, and Biohavioral Directions in Promoting the Health of Men and Boys. “Suicide rates for males range from 2 times higher among children aged 10 to 14, to 18 times higher among adults aged 85 or older.”
Estimated Annual Suicide Rate per 100,000 by Age and Gender
Age Range Male Females Male : Female
10-14 1.4 0.8 1.8
15-19 10.9 2.7 4.0
20-24 21.4 4.0 5.4
25-29 19.5 4.7 4.2
30-34 18.3 5.2 3.5
35-44 23.9 6.8 3.5
45-54 25.8 8.8 2.9
55-64 21.4 7.0 3.8
65-74 21.5 3.4 6.3
75-84 27.3 3.9 7.0
85 or older 38.6 2.2 17.5
Is The Economy Killing Men?
In 2003, author Richard Heinberg warned of the coming changes we would face as we reached the end of the cheap-oil era. “The change we are seeing is affecting more people, and more profoundly, than any that human beings have ever witnessed,” he said in his book The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies. “I am not referring to a war or terrorist incident, a stock market crash, or global warming, but to a more fundamental reality that is driving terrorism, war, economic swings, climate change, and more: the discovery and exhaustion of fossil energy resources.”
It might seem a stretch of the imagination to suggest that the discovery and exhaustion of fossil fuels could be contributing to all these problems, including the increase in male suicide, but Heinberg and others have continued to make a compelling argument. In the 300 years since we first discovered the huge energy potential contained in fossil fuels, industrial society has become totally dependent on them for its survival and we have been consuming them at ever increasing rates.
“Industrial civilization is based on the consumption of energy resources that are inherently limited in quality,” Heinberg reminds us, “and that are about to become scarce. When they do, competition for what remains will trigger dramatic economic and geopolitical events, in the end, it may be impossible for even a single nation to sustain industrialism as we have know it during the twentieth century.”
As I write this (March 6, 2011), the price of oil is $103/barrel and a headline in Bloomberg News reads: Oil prices may rise as fighting in Libya and tensions in other parts of the Middle East disrupt crude shipments from the region. Regardless of short-term trends, we absolutely know the following:
- Oil is a limited resource.
- We have already found the easily available oil.
- Getting to the remaining oil will be increasingly expensive (in costs to drill as well as costs to the environment when the inevitable accidents occur.)
- As the costs of oil rises, the costs of everything–from electricity to heating oil, water to food—will increase.
- Increasing costs affect the world economy.
When the economy is affected, so too are jobs, and men are particularly vulnerable to job loss. An editorial in the March, 2011 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, indicates that depression rates in men are likely to increase due to the socioeconomic changes going on in the world. The study’s lead author Boadie Dunlop, M.D., from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta writes, “Compared to women, many men attach a great importance to their roles as providers and protectors of their families. Failure to fulfill the role of breadwinner is associated with greater depression and marital conflict.”
The Ultimate “Power Tool” for Guys Who Want Their Lives to Work
What would you give to have a tool that can fix most of the things that really need fixing, is easy to use, can be taken wherever you go, never needs to be plugged in, and costs nearly nothing? Think of it as a super-charged Swiss Army knife with everything you need to address any emergency and heal any wound.
The four elements of your Swiss Army knife for the body, mind, and spirit (I call it the Energy Psychology Power Tool) are:
- Meridian Tapping
- Earth Connecting
- Heart Coherence
- Attachment Love
I won’t describe Meridian Tapping since most are familiar with it, but will describe the 3 other elements.
Element #2: Earth Connection
In some ways all the major problems we face today–from global warming to peak oil, from obesity to depression, from economic collapse to the increase of divorce—could be helped if we were able to re-establish our connection to the Earth. Social psychologist, Sam Keen put it simply: “The radical vision of the future rests on the belief that the logic that determines either our survival or our destruction is simple:
1. The new human vocation is to heal the earth.
2. We can only heal what we love.
3. We can only love what we know.
4. We can only know what we touch.”
So, how do we get in touch with the Earth? Well, for millions of years our ancestors moved across the landscape. The women walked to gather food. The men walked to find animals for food. In addition to walking, our male ancestors also jogged, ran, and sprinted to get close enough to wild animals to kill them and bring back meat for the tribe.
Have you heard of Earthing? When I first heard about it I knew I needed to try it. “Earthing ranks right up there with the discovery of penicillin,” says health guru and visionary Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD. So what is Earthing? In their book Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?, authors Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., and Martin Zucker say, “Earthing involves coupling your body to the Earth’s eternal and gentle surface energies. It means walking barefoot outside and/or sitting, working or sleeping inside while connected to a conductive device that delivers the natural healing energy of the Earth into your body.”
Element #3: Heart Coherence
Heart disease is still the major killer of men. According to the National Center of Disease Control (CDC):
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States.
- Half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.
- Between 70% and 89% of sudden cardiac events occur in men.
Millions of men are taking medications to treat or prevent heart disease. And once again there is another choice to consider. According to David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Instinct to Heal: Curing Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Without Drugs and Without Talk Therapy, there is an intimate connection between the heart and the emotion centers in the brain and by learning methods that produce heart coherence, we can not only protect our hearts, but the rest of the human body as well. He says, “A simple and effective method available to all of us seems to create the very conditions essential for harmony between the brain and the heart. Although this method has only recently been described, several studies have already shown beneficial effects.”
A number of these studies Servan-Schreiber notes have been conducted at the Institute of Heart Math based in Boulder Creek, California.
Element #4: Attachment Love
The most recent scientific studies on love offer surprising understandings. They tell us that the nature of our emotional attachment with our partner is the foundation for the kind of love we truly long to have—a love that is intimate, sexual, and gets better as time goes on. Social psychologists Phil Shaver and Cindy Hazan, then at the University of Denver, asked couples about their love relationships and what was most important to them. They were surprised by their answers:
- Adults spoke of needing emotional closeness from their lover.
- They wanted assurance that their lover would respond when they were upset.
- They were distressed when they were separate or emotionally distant from their loved one.
- They felt more confident about exploring the world when they knew that their lover had their back.
Dr. Sue Johnson, developer of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy and author of Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, says, “The attachment view of love was, and perhaps still is, radically out of line with our culture’s established social and psychological ideas of adulthood.”
She goes to detail the kind of cultural norms both women and men have grown up believing:
- Maturity means being independent and self-sufficient.
- The notion of the invulnerable warrior who faces life and danger alone is long-ingrained in our culture of manhood (Think of The Lone Ranger or James Bond).
- Even many therapists take the view that mature adulthood is synonymous with being self-contained. “Psychologists,” says Johnson, “use words like undifferentiated, codependent, symbiotic, or even fused to describe people who seem unable to be self-sufficient.”
- Men who show their emotional, vulnerable sides are often viewed as wimps, Momma’s boys, or homosexual.
It’s All About Stress
What do these four healing practices have in common? They all reduce stress, the primary cause of all our diseases.
The Three “One Things” Behind the Healing Codes
Alex Loyd, in his book, The Healing Code, recounts a scene from the original City Slickers movie with Billy Crystal where Crystal is talking with Curly played by Jack Palance, the rough and tumble old cowboy. Although he is a man of view words, Crystal comes to recognize that Curly is quite wise. Curly tells him that the secret of life was one thing. Crystal hangs on the next words as he asks Curly to elaborate. But Curly tells him that he must find the “one thing” for himself.
We’ve all had the experience of finding that one special thing that opens our eyes to the world. I recognized the power of love when I met my wife and again when our son was born. In the Healing Codes Loyd offers three, “one things” that he believes will help us heal our ills and create well being and joy in our lives. “We believe that as far as your life, your health, and your prosperity are concerned, these three things make all the difference.”
One Thing #1:
The one thing on planet Earth that can heal just about any problem in our lives is the immune and healing systems of the body. Most of us are not aware of the millions of healing events that go on in our body every second. Our immune system goes after invading organisms and our kidneys filter our blood. Our body temperature is kept within a healthy range and every second we shed millions of old cells while new ones are created. Our nervous system alerts us to threats and keeps us connected to others. Everything is kept in balance and we rarely have to think about it.
One Thing #2:
The one thing that can turn off the natural healing system of the body is stress. Most of us know that stress can cause all kinds of physical, emotional, and spiritual problems in our lives, but we don’t really understand how it works. Biologist Bruce Lipton offers a simple vision of how stress can harm us. He says that evolution has provided us with a lot of survival mechanisms that can roughly be divided into two functional categories: growth and protection. The body is build to put energy into one of these two functions at a time.
“Humans unavoidably restrict their growth behaviors when they shift into a protective mode,” Lipton says. “If you’re running from a mountain lion, it’s not a good idea to expend energy on growth. In order to survive—that is, escape the lion—you summon all your energy for your fight or flight response. Redistributing energy reserves to fuel the protection response inevitably results in a curtailment of growth.”
Alex Loyd offers a nice analogy to help us understand what’s happening on a cellular level. In the Navy, when a ship is attacked, all maintenance, repair, and normal activities cease. Even crew members that are sleeping or eating have to “man the battle stations.” When the alarm goes off, our cells cease their normal growth, healing and maintenance. Why? The fire alarm is only supposed to go off in an emergency, and all of those activities can wait a few minutes while we run or fight to save our lives.
The cells literally close up, like a ship battening down the hatches in a time of attack. Nothing is going in or out. You don’t see a tender ship coming up beside a battleship to give it food or to unload the garbage during a battle. In the same way our cells don’t receive nutrition, oxygen, minerals, etc. nor do they get rid of waste products and toxins while under stress.
The stress response is built in for our protection. When something threats us we go into fight-or-flight mode. That works wonderfully when the threat is short-lived. We can afford to turn off our growth functions long enough to escape from the lion. But, in our modern world we increasingly suffer from chronic stress and that’s where we have problems. There is only so much energy to go around. If we are putting it into protection, there isn’t enough for all the healthy growth functions. “In fact,” says Lipton, “you can shut down growth processes so completely that it becomes a truism that you can be ‘scared to death.’”
One Thing #3
The one thing on planet Earth that can turn One Thing #1 back on is healing the issues of the heart. As we’ll see in future chapters these issues of the heart are encoded in the cells of the body based on beliefs that offered survival value when we were growing up, but now cause problems in our lives. Removing these energy blocks allows the chronic stress responses that are no longer needed to be turned off and for the growth processes of the body to once again function normally.
“According to the greatest minds of our time,” says Loyd, “every problem is an energy problem.” As biologist Bruce Lipton and other scientists have shown, these problems are held in the cellular memories of our bodies. But the good news is that these cellular memories can be healed through various Energy Psychology techniques.
Who’re You Calling Irritable! What Makes You Think I’m Depressed?
As a psychotherapist, specializing in men’s health, I had always seen a number of men who were irritable and angry. For many this seemed to be a life-long response to feelings of insecurity, stress, and fears of failure. But now I was seeing more men who rather suddenly were changing from “Mr. Nice to Mr. Mean.” I didn’t have a name for what was troubling these guys and began calling it the “Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome” after the Robert Louis Stevenson story of the doctor who suddenly changed from a well-respected doctor to an out of control mad man.
I treated a lot of these men and the women who loved them, but felt like I was missing something essential about what was going on. I got my first clue when a colleague sent me copy of an article by Dr. Gerald A. Lincoln, a researcher in Edinburgh, Scotland. Dr. Lincoln had recently published the results of his studies on animals in the journal Reproduction, Fertility, and Development. He titled the paper, “The irritable male syndrome” and described what he observed in the animals following the withdrawal of testosterone.
IMS: The Symptoms and Causes
I define IMS as follows: A state of hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration, and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and loss of male identity.
1. Hormonal fluctuations.
In order to understand the way in which hormonal fluctuations cause IMS in men, we need to know something about testosterone. Theresa L. Crenshaw, M.D., author of The Alchemy of Love and Lust, describes testosterone this way: “Testosterone is the young Marlon Brando—sexual, sensual, alluring, dark, with a dangerous undertone.” She goes on to say that “It is also our ‘warmone,’ triggering aggression, competitiveness, and even violence. Testy is a fitting term.” We know that men with testosterone levels that are too high, can become angry and aggressive. But recent research shows that most hormonal problems in men are caused by testosterone levels that are too low.
Dr. Gerald Lincoln, who coined the term “Irritable male syndrome,” found that lowering levels of testosterone in his research animals caused them to become more irritable, biting their cages as well as the researchers who were testing them. Larrian Gillespie, M.D., an expert on male and female hormones says, “Low testosterone is associated with symptoms of Irritable Male Syndrome.”
2. Changes in brain chemistry.
Most people have heard of the brain neurotransmitter, serotonin. When we have enough flowing through our brains, we feel good. When there isn’t enough we feel bad. Siegfried Meryn, M.D., co-author of Men’s Health and the Hormone Revolution calls serotonin “the male hormone of bliss.” Women have the same hormone in their brains and it has an equally positive effect on them. “The more serotonin the body produces,” says Dr. Meryn, “the happier, more positive and more euphoric we are. Low serotonin can contribute to a man’s irritability and aggression.”
One of the most common causes of low serotonin levels is our eating and drinking habits. For instance, research has shown that protein, if consumed in excessive quantity, suppresses central nervous system serotonin levels. Many men were taught to believe that eating lots of meat would make them manly. Not only are there hormones injected in meat to make the animals fatter, but the protein contained in the meat can be harmful as well.
Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet can cause increased irritability in men. They found that men often mistake their cravings for healthy carbohydrates, such as those found in vegetables like potatoes, rice, corn, squash, etc., with cravings for protein found in meat. “Eating protein when we need carbohydrates,” says Wurtman, “will make us grumpy, irritable, or restless.”
In my experience as a psychotherapist, I have found that stress underlies most of the psychological, social, and medical problems people face in contemporary society, including IMS.
Futurist Alvin Toffler was one of the first people to recognize the effect of stress on society as a whole. “I coined the term ‘Future Shock,’ in 1965,” says Toffler, “to describe the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.”
As Toffler describes soldiers who broke down under the pressures of combat, you can recognize what happens to all of us under the constant stresses of a rapidly changing world. “Mental deterioration often began with fatigue. This was followed by confusion and nervous irritability. The man became hypersensitive to the slightest stimuli around him. He became tense, anxious, and heatedly irascible. His comrades never knew when he would flail out in anger, even violence, in response to minor inconveniences.”
4. Loss of male identity and purpose.
For most of human history, the male role was clear. Our main job was to “bring home the bacon.” We hunted for our food and shared what we killed with family and tribe. Everyone had a role to play. Some were good at tracking animals. Others were good making bows and arrows or spears. Some men were strong and could shoot an arrow with enough strength to kill a buffalo. Others were skilled at singing songs and doing dances that invoked the spirit of the animal and made the hunt more effective.
But now many of us work at jobs that we hate, producing goods or services that have no real value to the community. We’ve gotten farther and farther away from the basics of bringing home food we’ve hunted or growing our own. The money we receive is small compensation for doing work that is meaningless. And the men with some kind of job, no matter how bad it is, are the lucky ones. More and more men are losing their jobs and can’t easily find new ones.
Any one of the four causes mentioned above could have a major impact on a man and contribute to IMS. But what makes it even more difficult is that they interact with each other. When a man doesn’t feel he has meaningful work, for instance, his stress levels go up and his testosterone levels go down. When men are stressed they often drink too much, which lowers their testosterone as well as their serotonin levels.
The good news is that by changing any one, we can impact all of them. Here are a few things a man can do now. Have hormone levels checked. Find out if your testosterone may be low. Eat healthy food with a balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Exercise every day. Look for work that is meaningful and don’t take it personally if our dysfunctional economy pushes you out of your job. Grow something you can eat, even if it’s just a carrot or potato.
The Lion in Winter: Andropause and Mid-Life Sex
When my book Male Menopause was first published in 1997, most people had never heard of “male menopause” or the more scientific term “andropause.” But men, and the women who loved them, were impacted by the problems without knowing the cause: Erectile dysfunction, loss of sexual desire, irritability, weight gain, and low energy. Now, it is accepted that male menopause is real, it affects all men as they reach the age of forty (it can actually start as early as 35 or as late as 65), and there is much we can do to prevent and treat the problems associated with this major change of life.
Although many in the mainstream medical community question whether male menopause is real, more and more health-care professionals have examined the research and are convinced:
- Marc R. Blackman, M.D., former chief of endocrinology and metabolism at John Hopkins medical center says, “The male menopause is a real phenomenon and it does similar things to men as menopause does to women, although less commonly and to a lesser extent.
- Ronald Klatz, M.D., D.O., President of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine says, “One of the best-kept secrets is that men go through a male form of menopause called andropause.”
- Theresa Crenshaw, M.D., expert on male and female hormones and author of The Alchemy of Love and Lust says, “In the case of male menopause, we are still in the Dark Ages. Men have fewer guideposts to help them today than women had a generation ago. Only recently have we begun to understand the biochemistry of these events, tilting the scales toward a physiological explanation.”
My colleague, Malcolm Carruthers, M.D., one of the world’s experts on the male change of life captures the essence of what men go through:
“Andropause is a critical health concern for men and the women who love them. It’s often insidious onset can be at anytime from the age of 30 onwards, though typically it is in the fifties. One of the reasons it’s often missed is that it is usually more gradual in onset than the menopause in the female, although it is more severe in its long-term consequences. It is a crisis of vitality just as much as virility, even though it’s most obvious sign is loss both of interest in sex and of erectile power.”
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Jed Diamond, Ph.D. has been a health-care professional for the last 45 years. He is the author of 9 books, including Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Male Menopause, The Irritable Male Syndrome, and Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome. He offers counseling to men, women, and couples in his office in California or by phone with people throughout the U.S. and around the world. To receive a free E-book on Men’s Health and a free subscription to Jed’s e-newsletter go to www.MenAlive.com. If you enjoy his articles, he encourages you to subscribe. Jed writes to everyone who joins his Scribd team.
For more than 40 years Diamond has specialized in men’s health and has developed new and innovative programs to treat male-type depression and other problems that are common in males. For more information on Dr. Diamond’s work contact: Jed Diamond, www.MenAlive.com, Jed@MenAlive.com, Phone: 707 459-5505.