DIVISION 51 NEWSLETTER, Summer 2001
Message | Book Review | Editorial
SPSMM Bulletin Deadlines: January 31, April 30, July 31, October 31
The War for Boys: Youth in Crisis
James F. Dean, PhD
Christina Hoff Sommers wrote an article titled, "The War Against Boys" in the May 2000 issue of the Atlantic Monthly. Ms. Sommers argued that boys fare on the whole much worse than girls during their school careers. This article argued that schools have been unduly focused on helping girls adjust to becoming successful in a male dominated world while forgetting to meet the needs of boys. Ms. Sommers goes on about how boys much more than girls are in need of help. While this article is a thinly veiled attack on feminist thinkers and writers, Ms. Sommers has maybe done all of us a favor by underscoring the need for increasing attention on boys. As Bill Pollack wrote in his introduction to Real Boys' Voices, our boys are not receiving the attention they need and deserve. It has been a little over two years since the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Columbine has become the clarion call to force our society to realize that all is not well with boys.
Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson cite statistics in the first chapter of their book, Raising Cain, attesting to the need for identifying interventions to help boys. Boys cause 95% of juvenile homicides. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for male teenagers. Boys as compared to girls are three to four more times likely to be diagnosed with learning or attention disorders. Everyone is in agreement that more needs to be done to help boys in crisis. Books such as Real Voices and Raising Cain have led the way in identifying the need to respond to boys in a way that allows for boys to free themselves from traditional cultural training that requires boys to always be tough, competitive, and to never show weakness. Pollack has coined the term the Boy Code to refer to the gender straight jacket that makes it difficult for boys to display any characteristics such as sensitivity for fear of being seen as not masculine.
Drawing from writers such as Pollack, Kindlon and Thompson as well as others, we can begin to get an idea of just what boys need and steps that can be taken to help boys. Boys need to be taught how to be emotionally literate. Adults need to not only allow boys the opportunity to talk about feelings, but need to encourage males to reflect on how to respond empathetically to a situation. There is some controversy as to how much of a biological imperative leads boys to naturally be more action oriented and less reflective as compared to girls. But despite any biological influences, it is clear that boys have feelings and that society often gives boys the message that it is not OK to express those feelings. Socialized to always be number one, never to cry, to not give an inch has led to many deleterious effects for boys and men. Men end up not only cut off from their emotions, but also from their humanity.
Columbine has led to a new emphasis on teasing and bullying (apparently the two teenagers responsible for the killing had been teased). New studies suggest that thirty per cent of the kids in schools today are either being bullied or are bullies themselves. Despite a recent article in the May 20th New York Times suggesting that bullying is a natural consequence of growing up, many schools are starting to address teasing in their schools which should lead to a decrease in child cruelty. Howard Spivak and Deborah Prothrow-Stith have co-authored a book titled Deadly Consequences and these authors report that European schools have been successful in reducing bullying by fifty per cent. Andy Horne and Mark Kiselica have been pioneers in publishing work for years looking at the phenomenon of bullying.
Not too surprising is the obvious fact that our boys need to be provided loving parenting from adults. Adults need to communicate to boys that they will be accepted and loved regardless of whether they win or lose a game. Good old unconditional positive regard could go a long way in building a sense of self-worth for male youth. Boys need to have an adult who makes it clear that it is important to express feelings and is able to model for their children relational connectedness. There is some controversy as to the necessity of boys having male role models. Writers argue that it is especially important for boys to be in the company of men. There is also a body of research tying male violence to father absence. However, family therapist Olga Silverstein has demonstrated in her work that mothers raising their sons without fathers can be successful in teaching their boys to acknowledge their feelings and grow up to be successful young men. If fathers are available, they need to involve themselves with their boys in intimate ways. Fathers have the opportunity to present their sons with male role models that allow for the broadest possible definition of masculinity.
forget to hear Bill Pollack who will present an Invited APA Presidential
address Friday night at the convention this year titled " Real
Boys, Real Girls, Real Parents: Preventing Violence through Family
Connection". Also, Bill Pollack, Ron Levant, and Jim Garbarino
will present at a symposium Saturday titled, "The War for Boys:
What Must We Do To Win?" You can access the entire Division 51
program on the Division 51 Website.
Robert Rando has
done an excellent job as the D51 Web Master. And John Robertson has
put together an excellent program for our division at the convention.
As always you can reach me at 718-768-0422 or email@example.com.
Thanks to Vicki Putz who wrote me to point out the potentially harmful
metaphor "war for boys" as continuing the very behaviors
we all want to eliminate. As actors Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis said
at the Screen Actors Awards presentation recently, " Lift the
guns from our children's backpacks and fill them with dreams".
Dr. Richard B. Gartner's Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men
Psychoanalysis and the topic of sexual abuse have a conflicted history. Ever since Freud recanted his statement, "at the bottom of every case of hysteria there are one or more occurrences of premature sexual experiences" (The Aetiology of Hysteria, 1896) and replaced it with the Seduction Theory those with psychodynamic training have viewed their patients' stories of childhood sexual experiences as fantasy or wish fulfillment. Therefore some may think of a book titled Betrayed As Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abuse Men as a contradiction in terms. So too it was with the author. In the introduction Gartner acknowledges that his training made it most improbable that he would be able to accurately identify and effectively treat males who had been sexually abused as children. It was not until he had been in practice for over fifteen years that he began to question the conventional psychodynamic view. As for so many of us, Gartner's awakening came, not from a professional journal or conference, but in the form of a patient. Gartner describes it, "As he slowly began to recall horrifying stories of sexual abuse in early childhood, I was forced to rethink how to understand them. If they were entirely fantasies, then Patrick was floridly psychotic, which I did not believe. But if his stories were even partly true, then he had been the victim of grievous crimes perpetrated by his father and brother" (p.1). Thus began Gartner's complete rethinking of the issue of childhood sexual abuse which lead to the writing of this book.
Gartner is a scholar and begins his book with a review of the literature. Those who have been studying this topic in the last twenty years will find nothing new here. Similar reviews can be found in any number of recent books. The literature on the topic of male sexual victimization has exploded in the last two decades. To illustrate Gartner's author/year citations on the topic take three-quarters of a page. Those who are familiar with the definition, and effects of sexual abuse can skip over these sections and begin their reading with page 35 with the section that begins, "Goals, Process, And Themes In Treatment."
Once Gartner has demonstrated the existence of sexual abuse he spends the rest of the first five chapters addressing in detail how gender role and cultural expectations affects the ability of males to identify themselves as having been victimized. Gartner invites the reader to rethink the various scenarios which society currently view as sexual initiation, not sexual abuse. This includes when women are sexual with boys, and when men has sex with homosexual boys. I applaud his use of the term "same sex abuse" rather than the misleading term "homosexual abuse" which tends to reinforce the myth that men who have sex with boys are homosexual. His chapter titled "Same-sex" abuse addresses in detail this issue.
The thirty pages of chapter 3 "Struggles About Masculinity" do an excellent job of explaining the reasons that sexual abuse treatment can not be gender neutral. I intend to have the graduate students in my course "Men in Therapy" read this section of the book to gain an understanding of the issues faced by men, whether victims of sexual abuse or not, who enter psychotherapy.
The impact of gender roles is further examined in chapter 10 (written with Sue A Shapiro). The authors examine the issues commonly seen when the client is faced with either a male or female therapist.
book ends with a chapter on the use of group therapy. Those who are
already familiar with group therapy will find this a good description
of how group dynamics affect clients who have been sexually abused
and vise versa. Gartner wrote his intention was "to raise, delineate,
and develop the themes that often face the man with such a history
and the clinician working with him" (p. 9). In this reviewer's
opinion he succeeds.
Jim Mahalik, PhD
This is the last issue of the Bulletin before the convention and I have been thinking a lot about the upcoming time in San Francisco. I find myself getting excited to see people again and share the fellowship that is so much a part of Division 51.
I think that "fellowship" sounds odd to people because it seems to be a word that is out of favor in today's society. However, I use it deliberately, and some of Webster's definitions for "fellowship" tell me that it is just the right word to describe what we share as a division.
Webster begins by defining fellowship as, "sharing similar interests or experiences." The interest in boys and men's well being and taking a critical perspective on masculinity issues draws us together. It also quickly makes the group an important one to many of us as it is one of few places where others validate these interests and experiences.
Beyond the content of what we share is also a sense of mission. In this sense, Webster defines fellowship as "comradeship." I think I have found few other places in professional psychology where there is such a sense of shared urgency to getting out the messages where members feel a sense of the importance of the mission that the division embraces.
Although the focus and mission of the division are important to me, I think I have been most excited in the last couple of days thinking about the chance to see the people. In this way, Webster's definition of fellowship as "the companionship of individuals in a congenial atmosphere" and "a union of friends" captures a lot of what I enjoy most about the division. Division 51 just has some of the most outstanding people as members.
know this will be a great convention. John Robertson has done an outstanding
job with the program and there is growing interest in APA at large in
the mission of the division. I look forward to our chance to share our
work, our mission, and our friendship together. Please bring a friend.
This workshop is part of the ACT-Adults and Children Together Against Violence project that the American Psychological Association (APA) developed in collaboration with the National Association for the Education of Young Children NAEYC). Aimed at preventing violence in early childhood, the project focuses on key adults -- parents, teachers, and other caregivers whose influence helps shape the lives of young children - those under 8 years old.
This INTERMEDIATE workshop is based on the ACT Against Violence Community Training program developed by American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) with experts in child development, violence prevention, and training. The purpose of this workshop is to introduce psychologists to the ACT Against Violence project, and provide them with an overview of major topics on early childhood violence prevention, including: a) basic elements of dissemination of information to diverse groups of adults, b) teaching skills such as anger management, social problem solving, discipline, and media literacy and, c) the establishment and maintenance of successful collaborative efforts among individuals and community organizations. This workshop is for those who are interested in early childhood and violence prevention and/or work for organizations or agencies that provide services for families and/or young children.
This workshop is designed to help you:
Diane Bridgeman, PhD, Licenced Practitioner, Capitola Professional Center,
Member--Advance $175, On-site $210
Join APA President Norine G. Johnson, PhD and the American Psychological Association in San Francisco, August 24 through August 28th for the 109th annual APA convention. Highlights of the meeting you won't want to miss include the Opening Session keynote address by Mary Pipher, PhD. and the 2001 Presidential Mini Convention, "Psychology Builds a Healthy World: New Markets, New Research." The Healthy World mini convention, which takes place in the Moscone Convention Center from Saturday August 25 through Monday, August 27, features three days of cutting-edge programs that showcase some of psychology's most distinguished scientists and practioners.
Each day of the mini convention will focus on a special theme and feature a presidential invited speaker in addition to workshops, dialogues and roundtable discussions. Friday's theme will be Healthy Families and the invited speaker will be William Pollack, PhD, who will talk about "Real Boys, Real Girls, Real Parents: Preventing Violence through Family Connection." On Saturday, the theme will be Healthy Communities and the invited speaker will be Susan Pick, PhD, whose address will be "Healthy Sexuality for All: The Role of Psychology." James Campbell Quick, PhD, will be Monday's invited speaker. His presentation, "Working Together: Balancing Head and Heart", will kick off a day of programming on Healthy Workplaces.
This year, for the first time, APA will offer continuing education credits for attendance at the mini convention sessions. The CE credits are free and no pre-registration is required. However, attendance is limited to 350 people on a first-come, first-serve basis, so plan to arrive early.
Each session will include learning objectives, handouts, and information that attendees can take with them and use such as ideas to build their practices and ideas for new research challenges. Rather than providing broad overviews, the speakers will cover new information that addresses the needs of the general public as well as those of psychologists. Speakers in each session will show how psychology can help and will identify the leading research and the most effective applications. They will also invite audience participation.
The mini convention program was developed by the APA Task Force on the 2001 Presidential Initiative on Health and its three dedicated co-chairs: Carol D. Goodheart, EdD, Rodney Hammond, PhD and Ronald H. Rozensky, PhD. The task force's mission is to identify core health needs of the public and the policy implications; to use the collective power of all psychology's constituencies to partner with other relevant organizations; and to translate psychology's intervention and prevention techniques back to the public in both visual and written products.
learn more about the Psychology Builds a Healthy World mini convention,
the 2001 presidential mini conventions on Expanding Opportunities in
Science and Practice, and other 2001 presidential initiatives, visit
the APA's president's web page www.apa.org/about/president.
For more information about the APA convention, visit www.apa.org/convention.
A number of interesting issues for SPSMM and psychology arose at the APA Council of Representatives during the meeting in Washington, D.C. on February 22-25, 2001. In this report, I seek to provide a summary of the major issues and decisions, and also a bit of the flavor and tone of the meetings.
From APA President Norine Johnson
Norine (a SPSMM Member) did a superb job of efficiently, gently, and considerately conducting the complex meetings. She reported on her Presidential Initiatives, which have the theme Psychology: Building a Healthy World. The initiatives seek to inform the public and policy-makers about the contributions of psychology to building healthy families, healthy communities and healthy workplaces. Her initiatives include increasing awareness of expanding opportunities in psychological practice and emerging opportunities in science.
About the Annual APA Convention
Norine and the convention staff are planning a very inclusive opening event for Friday night of the APA Convention in San Francisco. Plan on attending! There will be numerous venues featuring different types of music and a cabaret featuring performances by APA members. If you might be interested, start getting your performance ready!
As you might have noted, attendance at the annual APA Convention has been declining of late (only about 6% of APA members attend). Seeking to address this, a new Convention format will be utilized in the 2002 convention in Chicago. The convention will be reduced to four days to make a shorter, less expensive, and hopefully more vibrant event. Also, a new "cluster" model will be employed in which Divisions with similar interests attempt to coordinate their programming to a larger degree. One thing to note, it seems very likely that there will be less program slots per division. Hence, SPSMM members might want to consider putting more material into poster presentations.
From APA CEO Ray Fowler
Dr. Ray Fowler (a SPSMM member) reported that APA has approximately 91,500 member and 65,800 affiliates. Retention of APA members is an increasingly key issue. Membership gains are lessening, due primarily to members aging, retiring, and becoming dues-exempt members. For example, there will be approximately 24,000 dues-exempt members by 2013.
Ray described issues that APA will be emphasizing to the US Congress include: parity for mental health, patients' bill of rights, and Medicare General Medical Education (GME) funding (The GME funding is a major win for the profession. See http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb99/case.html for an overview of the issue). APA members are asked to send messages to Congress regarding these important issues. On another note, APA continues to strive to be a model employer. APA is closer to reaching its goals of optimal ethnicity and gender representation in all employment categories.
The American Psychological Foundation (APF) has started a campaign to raise $7 million over the next five years to provide scholarships and grants for psychological research and innovative programs. Contributions to APF are requested.
From APA CFO Charles McKay
Mr. McKay updated Council on APA's finances. While dues may seem high at renewal time, only approximately 16% of APA operating expenses are derived from membership dues. APA owns two fully leased and occupied buildings that provide a very important source of non-dues revenues. APA Publications provides another important revenue source. Council passed the final budget for 2001 of approximately $87 million.
Main Actions by the Council
Two new Divisions of APA were approved: the Division of Clinical Child Psychology (Division 53) and the Society of Pediatric Psychology (Division 54). The motion to add "health" to the APA mission statement was approved (i.e., "The objects of the APA shall be to advance psychology as a science and profession and as a means of promoting health and human welfare by the encouragement of psychology in all its branches ." [Italics indicate one of the recommended changes]). APA members will vote on the recommendation.
The Ethics Code Task Force is seeking comments on the Draft of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. (The Draft was published in the February 2001 APA Monitor.) A related, controversial proposal to Council is that ethics adjudication by APA's Ethics Committee be limited to expellable behaviors. The proposal recommends that educative efforts of the APA Ethics Committee be enhanced and expanded. A primary reason for this proposal is to reduce the very high cost to APA of pursuing all complaints against APA members.
The Resolution on End of Life Issues was approved without much debate. In contrast, The Resolution on Assisted Suicide was highly controversial. This debate centered on whether or not psychologists should (or ethically could) be involved in working with people who were planning their suicide. The issue arose in part due to Oregon's Death with Dignity Act (i.e., physician assisted suicide is now legal in one state). The APA resolution neither endorses nor opposes assisted suicide. However, it does support APA in preparing the profession to address the issue of assisted suicide by actions such as promoting psychologists' participation in multidisciplinary teams and ethics committees involved with reviewing end-of-life requests and encouraging psychologists to obtain training in the area of ethics as it applies to end-of-life decisions and care. (See http://www.apa.org/pi/aseolf.html and http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec00/inthepi.html for more details on the original report.) The resolution was approved by a very close vote.
The Commission on Education and Training Leading to Licensure in Psychology presented its report. The most controversial aspect is the recommendation that the currently required one year of post doctoral supervision be moved to predoctoral (e.g., accounted for by practica). If successfully implemented, psychology graduates would be eligible for licensure immediately upon graduation. However, many people note potential problems with the recommendations, including: (a) risks associated with revising each state or province's psychology's rules and regulations in order to implement these modifications, (b) the loss of professional mobility between jurisdictions while various jurisdictions' rules and regulations are in flux, and (c) the perception that psychology is seeking to reduce the rigor of its licensure requirements at the same time it is experiencing increasing pressure from masters-level mental health professionals and is seeking to expand its scope of practice by adding prescription privileges. The report will be circulated to appropriate APA Committees and other governance groups. It will also be sent to external groups, including State Associations, for review. The report may be amended prior to its return to Council for a decision about adoption of the recommendation.
Like the earlier Warning Signs public service announcement, APA has collaborated with other organizations to develop a new, powerful PSA addressing violence prevention - ACT (Adults and Children Together) Against Violence. I believe it will be get significant attention (see http://www.apa.org/pi/pii/act.html for information about it).
Let me know if you have any questions or comments about Council activities.
The National Organization for Men Against Sexism presents the 26th Conference on Men and Masculinity (M&M26) at the University of Denver, Denver, Colorado, July 20-22, 2001. The theme is MANifesting Global Justice: Creating Inclusive Communities
Men and Masculinity conference is the premiere occasion for activists,
academics, and any other interested and concerned people to gather,
organize, educate and work for social justice and gender equality.
The American Psychological Association's Committee on Women in Psychology (CWP) is seeking nominations for two new members to begin terms in January 2002. The committee functions as a catalyst by interacting with and making recommendations to the various parts of the APA's governing structure, the APA's membership, and the Society for the of Psychology of Women, as well as to other relevant groups. Additionally, the committee collects information and documentation concerning the status of women and develops the means by which the participation of women in roles and functions of the profession could be increased.
Committee members plan, develop, and coordinate various activities regarding the status of women. CWP's present strategic initiatives include translating research in women's health to practice, women and work, and women in psychology careers. The committee is interested in persons with demonstrated interest and experience in women's issues to serve a three-year term beginning in January 2002 and ending in December 2004. For this term, CWP seeks at least one member actively involved in research. To fulfill the committee's commitment to full diversity in representation, one of the slates should be filled by an openly identified lesbian psychologist. Letters of nomination should clearly describe the candidate's specific qualifications relative to these criteria.
Selected candidates will be required to attend two committee meetings a year in Washington, DC, with expenses reimbursed by the APA. Members also work on CWP priorities between meetings. If possible, members attend a CWP meeting at their own expense held during the APA Convention.
Nomination materials should include the nominee's qualifications, a letter from the nominee indicating willingness to serve on CWP and a current curriculum vita. Self-nominations are also encouraged. APA nominations are open to members who are retired or employed less than full time. Nominations and supporting materials should be sent by September 1, 2001, to Stephanie Olmstead-Dean of the APA Women's Programs Office, 750 First Street, N.E., Washington, DC, 20002-4242.
How are "gender performances" scripted in popular films? How are gender-variant characters portrayed? What consequences are depicted for transgressing gender norms? What is the relationship between the way gender is scripted in film and our own lives? These will be some of the questions that will be explored in this interactive session. Film clips from popular movies, such as "Boys Don't Cry, "Mulan," and "The Crying Game" will be discussed. This session is co-sponsored by Divisions 17, 35, 44 and 51 and will take place from 1-2 p.m. on Saturday, August 25th in the Division 35 Hospitality Suite. For more information, contact Holly Sweet (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In response to conversations on the SPSSM list serve, Mike Andronico (president Division 51) asked me to co-chair an ad hoc committee for social activism. We decided that the best time to kick off this effort was at the upcoming (2000) APA convention. It was short notice, but we were able to arrange for Pete Seegar to play as the opening entertainment, and for Ralph Nader to speak. When Pete broke into "Where have all the Flowers Gone" and "If I Had a Hammer" there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Mr. Nader was well informed, and passionate about improving the lot of the American people. What a grand way to kick off a social activism campaign.
Well, Ok, maybe we weren't totally responsible for those two events, but they remain terrific backgrounds for the beginning of our work. I felt proud of the APA for bringing Pete Seeger's voice to the young psychologists in the room. I didn't realize how long he had been singing about change, until I bought his greatest hits album, and heard unionization and strikebusting songs that he sang with Guthrie (no, not Arlo, Woddie) in the '40's. At 82 years of age, Pete still compels us to see things that make us squirm. Singing with his grandson, he is a wonderful example of a kind and strong masculinity that mentors, and passes his values along to younger men. We should all follow his example. Division 51 doesn't need to agree on which values we should pass on, or promote. I don't think we could. That isn't the point, or even important. What is important is that we actively promote our own individual values. Each of us is informed by an experience, and an exceedingly expensive education, that is important to promoting positive change in society, and masculinity. It is delightful that gender role journey theory notes that social activism is an inherent feature and natural outgrowth of a developed masculinity.
Andronico started that process weeks before the APA convention. We were
having a hard time identifying volunteer opportunities that fit our
division through the APA contact working on ordinary pro bono service
at the APA convention. Mike took up the challenge, and spent a frustrating
afternoon, making phone calls to Washington. With Neil Massoth's help,
Mike found a group of mental health clinics (the D.C. Commission on
Mental Health Services, Child and Youth Service Administration) whose
director, Dr. Kemba A. Maish accepted his offer for a free consultation
at their weekly staff conference . He finally found a treatment center
for troubled boys who wanted an in-service training. When the time came,
he and Vic Frazio hailed a cab to go to the center. They thought it
rather odd that the cab driver didn't know where the address for the
center was. Later they discovered that he was having one of those convenient
lapses in memory that would have kept him out of a bad part of town.
The in-service training was a great success. Mike presented on filial
therapy, an approach which teaches participants to conduct play sessions
at home with their children, and Vic pitched in with helping to deal
with parents. A lively question and answer session followed. We can
all be proud of Mike and Vic for going.
The most important thing about serving at SOME were the connections. Besides connecting with 430+ plates of ham and eggs, there were wonderful people. Some of the volunteers were a family who brought a church group from another state. It was great to watch the adults work right along with the children in order to help people they didn't even know. I wasn't the only person from APA, either. Since the APA organized that effort I was able to work with, and enjoyed a wonderful walk back to the convention with another psychologist. Volunteering gave me the opportunity to experience these wonderful people, in addition to the staff at SOME, and the community that the APA visited. It feels presumptuous to claim that I may have connected with the men who came for breakfast, and yet we must have more understanding of each other than if the psychologists had not gone at all.
was interesting, and somewhat upsetting that I served only men. I learned
that they have two dining rooms, one for men, and another for women
and children. They are separated because apparently the men harassed
the women, and women were uncomfortable bringing their children. Of
course, this is an extreme example, but masculinity issues were everywhere.
There is no better work for Division 51, and nowhere is it more needed
than in social activism.
There will be another activism project at the APA convention in San Francisco. Several divisions are participating in coordination. It's a big sacrifice to take several hours out of your convention scheduling to participate in community service. It isn't right for everyone. On the other hand it's a great way to become involved, and a very public statement that psychologists, specifically Division 51 members, care about our participation in the world. If you would like to join in, please email Iverson Eicken at: email@example.com.
The following paper is based on Dr. Courtenay's discussant's remarks for the symposium Men's Health in the New Millennium: Emerging Research Theory and Practice chaired by Dr. Rod Hetzel at the 108th Convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C.
First, I want to extend my gratitude to our chair Dr. Roderick Hetzel for his foresight and initiative in convening this symposium. I am also grateful to my colleagues on this panel for their excellent and timely work. I'm going to comment on it further in a moment. But I want to begin by taking this opportunity to confront another one of our colleagues in this room.
This fellow has been revered for decades, and perhaps for that reason, his authority is rarely challenged. But despite his power and influence, he has seriously undermined our work. His continued influence in our field represents a major barrier to the advancement of our true understanding of masculinity and men's health.
Who's this fellow I'm referring to? He's "The Male Gender Role."
Now, it would be against my principles to do violence to this fellow. I would, however, like to see him laid to rest. But despite being very old and basically on life support, we keep breathing new life into him every day.
Let me tell you five problems I have with this old guy.
The first problem is that The Male Gender Role would have us believe that masculinity resides solely in each man's individual psychology. With a slight of hand, he blinds us to the social systems - such as school and work places - that are powerful influences in shaping masculinity.
The second problem is that The Male Gender Role normalizes masculinity and implies that manhood is some kind of universal experience. He's rather narcissistic that way. He thinks every man in the world is just like him - White, middle-class, heterosexual, and in college.
The third problem I have with this guy is that to keep his feeble identity propped up, he leans heavily on unfounded biological assumptions. He thinks it's just "natural" - and inevitable - that men and women differ.
fourth problem with this fellow - perhaps due to senility - is that
he doesn't seem to have any memory of the past. It would seem he has
may be asking yourself, "Why all this concern about The Male Gender
Role in a symposium on men's health?" It's because The Male Gender
Role limits the ways that we understand men and conceptualize men's
psychology - and consequently, how we understand and think about men's
health. It keeps us from asking the most important question: "Who
are the men in 'men's health?'"
First, they'd look beyond individuals. As people interested in psychology, we tend to think that everything begins and ends with individuals. But our lives and the world are never simply a matter of individual people - or what we think, what we feel, and what we do. We're always participating in social systems that are larger than us - families, schools, and the APA.
We live in dynamic relationship with these social systems. They shape our sense of who we are, our relationships, our place in the world, our gender, and our health behavior.
So with new paradigms, we wouldn't simply think of men's health as something about individual people - our personalities or our biology. We'd think about how men's health gets shaped by social systems - like dangerous worksites, poor communities, and the health care system.
New paradigms would also acknowledge the biological systems that influence men's health and psychologies - like our brains. Every month, there are new findings about sex differences in brain functioning - such as women moving more quickly than men between the left and right sides of the brain.
research may help to explain long-reported gender differences in emotional
expression. Putting words to emotions requires both hemispheres of the
brain - the right side to experience emotions and the left side to articulate
Take Brannon and David's influential and enduring model of masculinity. One of their four constructs is for a man to be "a sturdy oak." But we never distinguish between the "sturdy oaks" that grow in wealthy White suburbs and the "sturdy oaks" that grow in poor Black, urban neighborhoods.
We're hearing more these days about the disturbing six- to seven-year difference in the lifespans of women and men. But new paradigms must recognize that there's a greater difference in the lifespans of Black and White men than there is between women and men. African American men die eight years younger than European American men. In fact, men of color account for much of the gender difference in mortality.
So, these new models would acknowledge differences among men. They'd recognize that there's no one masculinity, there are many masculinities - and many gender roles.
all men endorse traditional beliefs about manhood. Men with less education
and lower family income are more likely to endorse them - as are African
Americans. But even among Black men there are differences; younger,
nonprofessional men hold more traditional beliefs than older, professional
They could also challenge biologically based assumptions about women and men - the third problem. The Male Gender Role is based on the belief that we are our biologies - that there must be essential differences between women and men simply because male and female reproductive organs differ.
But new paradigms would recognize that to maintain this notion of gender as difference has required that we disregard decades of research indicating that - at least psychologically - men and women are more similar than dissimilar. They'd remind us that findings of gender difference often result from small statistical differences between a minority of the population - and that they rarely represent categorical differences between all men and all women.
The fourth problem I mentioned is a lack of historical perspective. We forget or simply don't acknowledge the fact that in the first half of the nineteenth century, there was little concern among men about physical strength. It was not physical strength, but strength of character that was valued among men.
When it comes to men's bodies, the last several decades have witnessed significant changes. Dr. McCreary has discussed elsewhere that the cultural standard for men's bodies has become increasingly large and muscular. Through better understanding the history, evolution and the vicissitudes of masculinity, we'll better understand the full range of its potential.
And, finally, the new paradigm would recognize that masculinity is not fixed or static. The same man demonstrates masculinity differently in different contexts. He may believe that it's not O.K. to cry at work or in front of peers, but that it is O.K. to cry at home or with his wife.
A man's psychology is one way when he's with his street gang and another way when he's with his children.
And men's beliefs about manhood can and do change over time. Some men reinforce and reproduce traditional masculinity. But other men redefine and transform it. Still other men resist traditional standards and create they're own standards of manhood. Other men simply reject any relevance of masculinity at all.
So to truly understand masculinity and men's health - whether we're practitioners or researchers - we need to consider them within the contexts in which they occur and at what age, time, and place they occur.
Well, I'd like to return now to the excellent work of my colleagues on this panel. Let's take a look at some of the important questions their findings raise - questions that researchers and theorists of a new, emerging discipline of men's health might address.
a result of Dr. McCreary's research, we finally understand something
about how men think about their weight, and how their perceptions of
their bodies might contribute to their being overweight. He and his
colleague Dr. Stanley Sadava explored the interaction between gender,
weight, and self-perception in a large community-based sample of adults
(McCreary & Sadava, 2000).
Now the women and men in this study are from eastern Canada. Although more U.S. men than women are also overweight, will the findings of men's perceptions hold true for men in the United States? Geography certainly plays a role in men's health. Being overweight is strongly linked with cardiovascular disease which is the leading killer of men. But the death rate for cardiovascular disease is highest in the Southern United States. What accounts for this? Is it a Southern diet? Or is it something about Southern men's views about manhood?
National data indicate that Southern men hold the most traditional views about gender. But the geography's even more specific. Rural Southern men have the most traditional views - and data suggest these men also have more health problems.
And how does the media - as a social system - influence these perceptions, and men's weight and dietary habits. Dr. McCreary's prior research indicates that watching television can foster inaccurate weight perceptions. But how exactly does this happen? And what about movies and magazines?
In the study by Mr. Loscalzo and his colleagues (Loscalzo, Hooker, Zabora, & Bucher, 2000), over 5,729 patients with cancer completed the Brief Symptom Inventory, a 53-item self-report symptom scale. Among the results that Mr. Loscalzo presented were the findings that more men than women with cancer reported practical problems - such as parking and insurance -and that more women reported pain and psychosocial problems - such as problems with emotions and communication with children. However, they also found no gender differences in the experience of anxiety or depression, and - in the case of lung cancer - they found that more men reported somatic complaints.
Why is it that one and one half times more women than men in this study experienced pain with cancer? There's evidence that hormones likely play some role in mediating pain. But we also know that psychosocial factors do too. In front of a female clinician _ for example _ men are less likely to report pain. So how do hormones and the gender of clinicians' - or researchers' - influence the reporting of pain among cancer patients?
their finding of no difference in depression between men and women -
though not statistically significant - is, nonetheless, a significant
finding. This result - which challenges popular myth that men simply
don't get depressed - is consistent with findings from other groups
as well, like college students.
Are there gender differences in the way people with cancer cope with depression? Among people, in general, with depression, men are more likely than women to rely on themselves, withdraw socially, and to try to talk themselves out of depression. Do these differences disappear when a man gets cancer? Or, do they intensify?
Dr. Diefenbach (2000) presented findings from a study designed to explore treatment expectations, distress, and treatment decision making among more than 300 men diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer. Compared to men who chose surgery, those who chose radiation or seed therapy did so because they expected it to have fewer side-effects, to be more convenient, and to be less painful and invasive, even though they were less convinced that these treatments would provide the best chance of a cure. Patients who chose radiation also reported significantly less distress about their treatment choice, lower levels of distress during the decision-making process, and greater satisfaction with ongoing treatment.
Now, in this study, 90 percent of the men were European American, and we don't know their socioeconomic status or sexual orientation. And research indicates that economically disadvantaged people, sexual minorities, and people of color have very different health care experiences than do White, middle-class heterosexuals. Future researchers might explore whether the treatment expectations and decisions, and levels of distress, differ among men based on their ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation.
Roughly half of the men in Diefenbach's study chose surgery. How might class, ethnicity and sexual orientation influence these decisions? Black patients rate their doctors - and their doctor's decision-making styles - as less participatory than Whites do. Black men also trust doctors less. It would seem that these factors would influence surgery decisions - which do differ among groups. A study this year found that the rate of glaucoma surgery among Blacks is nearly 50% below what it should be compared to Whites.
And how would distrust and less participation by clinicians influence Black men's satisfaction with radiation? Would their satisfaction be as high as it is for White men? And how does the relative social power and privilege of clinicians and patients influence both decision-making and satisfaction?
Mills (2000) reported the results of a study designed to assess health
knowledge and skills among 11,691 students from all 172 Rhode Island
elementary schools. The findings indicated that being White, upper-class,
and female were all significant predictors of greater health knowledge
And what about SES? One of the strengths of Mr. Mills' work is that it examines the interaction of SES and ethnicity, with gender. And, indeed, it was not gender, but SES, that was the strongest predictor of knowledge. But how exactly does SES interact with gender and ethnicity? We have much to learn about these kinds of intensely complex interactions.
Now, simply because men and boys are less knowledgeable about health, doesn't mean that they can't learn about it. Indeed, the findings from Dr. Shankar and Ms. Goldson's study (2000) of the Men's Preventive Health Counseling Program in Boston suggest otherwise.
The program - administered by Action for Boston Community Development - is designed to provide comprehensive family planning, reproductive, and sexual health care services for lower income African American and Latino men. The study's preliminary results suggest that the program has been successful in increasing men's level of knowledge of - and their involvement in - family planning, reproductive health, and sexual health care. They also suggest that the program has positively influenced men's beliefs about manhood, men's behavior, and men's readiness to adopt healthy habits.
The study's findings also raise important questions about differences among men based on their age. Younger men in their program endorsed several beliefs that increase the chances of unwanted pregnancies. What accounts for these age-based differences? The truth is, we know very little about developmental differences in men's and boys' health beliefs - and the effects of these beliefs on their well-being.
Family planning clinics are increasingly addressing the needs of men. It seems most men would support this change. Research shows that men generally believe that preventing pregnancy is a shared responsibility - which is consistent with the findings of Dr. Shankar and Ms. Goldson.
also shows that programs that involve men do result in positive outcomes
for men and their partners. But in order for these programs to be most
effective, we need to learn what it is exactly that makes them successful.
In the Boston program, all of the counselors are men. What significance,
if any, does this have on men's knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors over
Well, as for our own group discussion here, I hope the practitioners and researchers on this panel have influenced you - and inspired you as much as they've inspired me. There are many yet unanswered questions about men's health.
During the last century, we were enormously successful in addressing the health part of men's health. But as we think about men's health and search for answers in the new millennium - and as we guide emerging research, theory, and practice - we need also to ask ourselves "Who are the men in 'men's health?'"
NOTE: The author wishes to acknowledge Michael Messner for the inspiration he provided for this paper in: Messner, M.A. (1998) The limits of 'the male sex role': The discourse of the men's liberation and men's rights movements. Gender & Society, 12, 255-276.
M.A. (2000, August). Treatment decision-making preferences among patients
with early stage prostate cancer. In R. Hetzel (Chair), Men's health
in the new millennium: Emerging research theory and practice. Symposium
conducted at the 108th Convention of the American Psychological Association,
M.J., Hooker, C.M., Zabora, J.R., & Bucher, J.A. (2000, August).
How men manage the ongoing challenges of cancer. In R. Hetzel (Chair),
Men's health in the new millennium: Emerging research theory and practice.
Symposium conducted at the 108th Convention of the American Psychological
Association, Washington, DC.
D.R. & Sadava, S.W. (2000, August). Gender differences in adult
perceptions of body weight and their relationships to self-perceived
attractiveness, life satisfaction, and health. In R. Hetzel (Chair),
Men's health in the new millennium: Emerging research theory and practice.
Symposium conducted at the 108th Convention of the American Psychological
Association, Washington, DC.
D.S. (2000, August). Health knowledge of young males: Understanding
and preventing negative health behaviors of men. In R. Hetzel (Chair),
Men's health in the new millennium: Emerging research theory and practice.
Symposium conducted at the 108th Convention of the American Psychological
Association, Washington, DC.
R., & Goldson, I. (2000, August). Sexual health of lower income
African American and Latino adult males. In R. Hetzel (Chair), Men's
health in the new millennium: Emerging research theory and practice.
Symposium conducted at the 108th Convention of the American Psychological
Association, Washington, DC.
Psychology of Men and Masculinity is among the world's first scholarly publications devoted to the dissemination of research, theory, and clinical scholarship that advance the discipline of the psychology of men and masculinity. This discipline is defined broadly as the study of how men's psychology is influenced and shaped by gender, and by the process of masculinization, in both its socially constructed and biological forms. We welcome scholarship that advances our understanding of men's psychology, across the life span, across racial and ethnic groups, and across time.
Examples of relevant topics include, but are not limited to, the processes and consequences of male gender socialization, including its impact on men's health, behavior, interpersonal relationships, emotional development, violence, and psychological well-being; assessment and measurement of the masculine gender role; gender role strain, stress, and conflict; masculinity ideology; fathering; men's utilization of psychological services; conceptualization and assessment of interventions addressing men's understanding of masculinity; sexuality and sexual orientation; biological aspects of male development; and the victimization of male children and adults.
Submitted manuscripts must be written in the style outlined in the 1994 Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (fourth edition). Psychology of Men and Masculinity will accept both regular length submissions (7,500 words) and brief reports (2,500 words). Submitted manuscripts must not have been previously published and must not be under consideration for publication elsewhere.
Four copies of the manuscript should be mailed to: David Lisak, PhD, Editor, Psychology of Men and Masculinity, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, MA 02125-3393.
Nominations for Felow Status in divisions 51, APA are presently being accepted. If you are aware of a member who has been exemplary in the areas of Research or Service for the Psychology of Males and Masculinity (or if you yourself fit the mold), please forward names by September 1 to Marty Wong, Ph.D.; Fellows Chair; 15 Elizabeth St.; Charleston, SC 29403 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Editor for Special Focus Section: Steven Abell, Ph.D.
In recent years, some social theorists have begun to question the essential nature of paternal involvement in child development. It is my view that these authors have made an understandable but deeply misguided conclusion. Their thinking seems to be based on the idea, gleaned from the experience of industrialized societies in the twentieth century, that the father's role in the family was simply that of providing financial or material support for other family members. With the increased earning potential of women, the role of the father then becomes superfluous or at least non-essential. This is an ahistorical approach to fatherhood, which seems to forget that for hundreds of years many mothers and fathers worked side by side on family farms, in which both were important economic contributors (producing the goods the family needed) as well as being involved parents. The family functioned then as a unit, and the father's purpose in life went well beyond that of economic provider (though this was one important aspect of his role).
To rediscover the true meaning and place of fatherhood in family life, it is my conviction that we must overcome the monetary preoccupations of the capitalist society in which we live, and realize that bread-winning is only one component of fatherhood. By defining a more inclusive concept of father involvement, which includes bread-winning along with a host of other activities, I believe Joseph Pleck's contribution to this special focus section is an important step in the right direction. When we define fatherhood more broadly, we can then begin to look at both the instrumental and the emotional aspects of paternity.
An interesting question to ask, however, is why efforts were made to restrict the role of fathers to begin with. This may have a great deal to do with the long hours that many twentieth century fathers spent working away from home and the presence of their young children, as well as the with impact of numerous other factors that negatively influenced fathering, such as wide-spread divorce, the incompatibility of nurturing with a macho male gender role, and the typically dismissive portrayal of fathers in the popular media. When taken together, these factors lead many of us to grow up with a tremendous sense of pain and loss around our own fathers, and a deep feeling that these men were not with us in the ways that we needed them to be. It may now be easier for us to ignore the emotional aspects of fatherhood or to denigrate and diminish paternity all together, than it is to look at the sadness within us. I think the courageous pieces of Neil Chetnik and Ronald Levant in this special focus section do much to show the vital importance of father's in emotional development, and that the universal need for a father does not diminish as one reaches adulthood.
In my own contribution to this Special Focus Section, I hope that David Schwartz and I have given the reader some sense that the father-child relationship is not a one way street. It is our belief that while father's can greatly contribute to the development of their daughters and sons, fatherhood is also one of the most significant opportunities for the lifelong growth and development of adult men. When taken together, it is my hope that the four articles in this special focus section will represent a sincere effort to illustrate two of the most fundamental truths about family life - that we parent as gendered beings, and that fathers, like mothers, are essential.
Fatherhood as a Growth Experience: Expanding Humanistic Theories of Paternity
Steven Abell and David Schwartz
(this article is a summary or a longer piece by the same authors, which originally appeared under the same title in The Humanistic Psychologist, volume 27(2),1999, pp.221-241)
20 years have passed since Dustin Hoffman portrayed a father battling for his custody rights in the movie Kramer vs. Kramer. This groundbreaking film first brought into popular consciousness the importance of equal rights for fathers, and helped to place a new emphasis on understanding the role of fathers. Two decades later however, men are still trying to understand how fathering fits into their lives, and how paternity fits into our current construction of masculinity.
Since Hoffman's portrayal of a man in discovery of his fathering potential, the amount of research conducted on the subject of fatherhood has vastly increased. Even with this increase, however, the amount of data available on fatherhood is still miniscule in comparison to other areas of adult life, such as intimacy or identity development (for some notable exceptions to the scarcity of work on fatherhood see the scholarship of Michael Lamb, Ronald Levant, or Joseph Pleck). In the last two centuries scholars and social critics have moved from the Victorian-era view of the father as a "moral teacher" to the post world war II "breadwinner", to the 1960's "sex role model" and ultimately to our current notion of a "new nurturant father"(Lamb, 1986, p.4-6).
Yet even as social thinkers have begun to speculate that fathers can be crucial in the nurturing of young children, little research has been done on fathering. What research studies have been conducted typically focus on how fathers affect the development of their children (Marsiglio, 1993), rather than looking at how the process of parenting may influence the father's overall course of life. For a man to make a long-term commitment to the care of his children may be regarded by many as a moral duty or point of honor, but little has been said about the importance of fathering in a man's healthy emotional growth and development.
The Influence of Sociobiology
recent years, the field of psychology may have unwittingly supported
the lack of interest in fathering, as evolutionary psychology has promulgated
the notion of what Blankenhorn (1995) referred to with great concern
as "the sperm father" (p. 171). Sociobiologists such as Barash
(1977), Buss (1989, 1991), Cunningham (1981), and many others who operate
from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, have argued that men
and women approach parenting in radically different ways.
While this perspective may well explain certain aspects of lust and initial sexual attraction, the theory has many shortcomings. For instance, this theory says nothing about the emotional ramifications for men who follow what Barash (1977) referred to as "love 'em and leave 'em" (p. 48) strategy of reproduction. Under the rubric of evolutionary psychology, one would think that a man who sired thousands of children, but who failed to have a relationship with any of them, would die as a happy and fulfilled individual, since this sexually unconstrained male did much to foster the survival of his genes. Common sense would suggest, on the other hand, that this position denies everything that we know about the relational capacities and nurturing abilities of men.
Society and the Changing Father
Part of our reluctance to look at the role of fathering in a man's life, may also stem from the anxiety producing changes that various social forces have brought upon a father's role in his family. One of the earliest and most crucial factors to alter fatherhood was the industrial revolution (Bly, 1990; Gilbert, 1992). With the industrial revolution, work moved away from the home. Fathers, who were once an almost constant presence on the farm family, were forced to work long hours away from their children and spouses.
Current confusion about the meaning of fatherhood in a man's life may have lead to much of the dichotomy that many social observers are noticing between involved and uninvolved fathers. Furstenberg (1988) called attention to the simultaneous rise of "good dads" who are more involved and emotionally present with their children than fathers of the past, and "bad dads" who are more absent from their families. Furstenberg's research suggests that there has been a simultaneous rise in both types of fathers since the 1950's. While deadbeat or negligent fathers are now legendary in our culture, few scholars have seriously examined the motives of this growing group of men. The research of Herzog (1982) suggested that fatherhood is likely to continue with its present decline, unless social theorists can develop a new and more workable model of paternity.
Optimal Male Development
To promote fathering, it may well be necessary to understand how fatherhood can contribute to optimal male development. Lerner and Kreppner (1989) argued that much of the scholarship on parenting focuses on how parents influence children, rather than on the dyadic interactions through which children also shape and alter their parents. This gap is particularly true of fatherhood, in terms of how children can ideally contribute to a man's emotional growth and development. Luckily, existing humanistic models of optimal adult development can offer some guidance for fathers and for professionals who work with fathers.
The logical starting point in any humanistically oriented discussion of adulthood is probably Maslow's (1954, 1968) famous hierarchy of needs, which culminates with the individual's need for self-actualization. A significant problem exists with Maslow's pyramid, however, if it is to be applied to paternity. Maslow suggested that self-actualization was a being or growth motive, while belongingness and love needs were deficit motives from a lower level of Maslow's linear progression. This position assumes that self-fulfillment can be achieved in a western, autonomous fashion, in which the relational aspects of self-actualization are assigned a subordinate role in the grand scheme of one's life. It is probably unfair to blame Maslow for the individualistic nature of his theory, since he was after all, a male psychologist in North America, who wrote before the groundbreaking work of Gilligan (1982), Chodorow (1978, 1989) and other feminist authors. By arguing for the normalcy and health of feminine relatedness, feminist psychological theorists such as Gilligan and Chodorow have called into question any theory that places an individual's belongingness and love needs in a subordinate position.
The work of these feminist theorists suggests that for both genders, a person's belongingness and love needs should not be viewed as deficit motives. It may be more useful instead to view the universal human desire for interpersonal connection as a subset of what Maslow (1954, 1968) described as the growth motives. In this way, individuals who achieve self-actualization through their relationship with a significant other will no longer be pathologized.
A more interpersonally productive way for men to think about their development and about fatherhood in particular, may be to blend Maslow's (1954, 1968) notion of self-actualization with Marcel's (1964) concept of creative fidelity. Marcel has suggested that people will find psychological authenticity, or become more fully alive, only when they commit themselves to one another in bonds of faithfulness. This type of fidelity is "creative", in that the partners redefine themselves through the relationship. The profound interpersonal commitments, which Marcel described, may be the ultimate growth experience, and a less western or autonomous route to self-actualization.
For men, fatherhood today can be one of the greatest opportunities for this type of creative fidelity. A father can discover many new aspects of the self, out of his caring for and commitment to another person. Fatherhood should be redefined from the traditional good provider role, to the notion of fatherhood as a growth experience.
In this way, fatherhood can be a chief way for men to achieve what the child psychoanalyst and developmental theorist Erik Erikson (1963, 1982) described as generativity rather than stagnation. According to Erikson, stagnation occurs when a person becomes stale and old, preoccupied with themselves, and is doing the same thing over and over again. Committed fatherhood, on the other hand, involves both a significant concern for the next generation as well as the constant acquisition of new skills. The new knowledge that is gained from this interpersonal process will then usher the man more soundly into Erikson's final sense of wisdom, rather than leaving him with the despair that results from stagnation.
The Absent Father
If fatherhood is to be viewed as a growth experience, however, it is logical to ask what will happen to men who lose contact with their children, or who have been absent from the beginning. Unfortunately, in the United States absent fathers appear to constitute a large and growing portion of the male population. In a review of U.S. census data, Blankenhorn (1995) reported that from 1960 to 1990, the percent of children living with their biological fathers dropped from 82.4% to 61.7%. Part of this decline is surely due to the increased prevalence of divorce throughout western society.
While divorced fathers often lose their function as meaningful co-parents, an increasingly large group of men never establish any type of significant social or legal relationship with their children from the onset. It may be that with the cultural demise of fatherhood, and with few real life role models, many men are unprepared from the start. Without positive real life examples of paternity, many men may desperately look to the media for images of fatherhood.
With a lack of available father figures, a vicious cycle can ensue, in which men never experience emotional intimacy or positive modeling with another man, become insecure about their own masculinity, and then reject the more nurturing and traditionally feminine aspects of parenting. In a culture of machismo and male-insecurity over gender identity, it is no wonder that many men reject the parenting of young children. Research suggests that both men and women experience an increase in their femininity when they become parents (Palm & Palkowitz, 1988). This may be a very anxiety-producing notion for men who already struggle with issues of gender identity. For fatherhood to be viewed as a growth process, both our notions of fatherhood and our basic ideas about masculine gender identity must change. If masculinity is redefined to include more nurturing and relational aspects of the self, then it will be easier for the deadbeat dads of today to realize that fathering can become a continuous developmental advancement of their identity.
A move towards a new, more pro-fathering culture of masculinity, must also reshape the way in which men are taught to view their reproductive potential. Men are often encouraged by the popular media to view their ability to procreate in a hedonistic and sexualized manner, or to emphasize their ability to sire large numbers of children in the fashion of sociobiology. To promote this view of fathering in any way is surely to deprive men of their dignity and potential for growth. Rarely, are men taught to think of their reproductive potential as a positive force, which should be handled in the careful and responsible way in which one would care for any important legacy.
has negative consequences for virtually all men who either lose or never
have a real sense of relatedness with their children. In both cases
there is a loss of both creative fidelity and the discovery of one's
potential to nurture and guide. For even if a man has contact with his
children for many years, it is unlikely that he will view fathering
as one of the peak activities of his life, if he is unable to finish
Future scholars, who study men and masculinity, can enhance their understanding of fatherhood by considering a humanistic model of paternity. In this model, the father-child relationship is considered a powerful expression of creative fidelity, in which a man redefines himself through his love and commitment to his child. In this way, fatherhood can optimally lead to dyadically-experienced self-actualization and the achievement of long-term generativity.
This positive view of paternity may also serve as a useful antidote to the recent demise of fathering. While it is true that more children are now growing up in the United States without involved fathers, a cultural change in which active fatherhood is viewed as a central component of optimal male development could do much to reverse this trend. Since fatherhood has always been more of a social than biological construction, it is crucial that our society embrace a new model of how fathering is a vital and important aspect of men's lives.
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Buss, D. M. (1991). Evolutionary personality psychology. In M. R. Rosenzweig and L. W. Porter (Eds.), Annual Review of Psychology. (pp. 459-491). Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews, Inc.
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Erikson, E. (1982). The life cycle completed: A review. New York: Norton.
Furstenberg, F. F., Jr. (1988). Good dads-Bad dads: Two faces of fatherhood. In A. J. Cherlin (Ed.), The changing American family and public policy (pp. 193-218). Washington, DC: Urban Institute.
Gilbert, R. K. (1992). Revisiting the psychology of men: Robert Bly and the Mytho-Poetic movement. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 32(2), 41-67.
Gilligan, C. (1982). In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development. Cambridge, M. A.: Harvard University Press.
Herzog, J. (1982). Patterns of expectant fatherhood: A study of the fathers of a group of premature infants. In S. Cath, A. Gurwitt, J. M. Ross (Eds.) Father and Child: Developmental and Clinical Perspectives. (pp. 301-314). Boston: Little Brown.
Lamb, M. E. (1986). The changing role of fathers. In M. E. Lamb (Ed.), The Father's Role: Applied Perspectives. (pp. 3-27). New York: Wiley.
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Palm G. F., & Palkovitz, R. (1988). The challenge of working with new fathers: Implications for support providers. Marriage and Family Review, 12(3-4) 357-376.
Father Involvement: A Contested Concept
Joseph H. Pleck
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The research reported here was supported by grants to Joseph Pleck from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and from the Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station
to the 1980's, the social sciences had formulated many constructs regarding
fathers' behavior and relationship with their children (e.g., father
absence, warmth, responsiveness). No concept existed, however, addressing
how much fathers do as parents. To fill this gap, Lamb, Pleck, Charnov,
and Levine (1985, 1987; Pleck et al., 1985) proposed the construct of
"paternal involvement," a concept subsequently widely used.
Lamb and Pleck further conceptualized involvement as including three
components: (1) paternal interaction (engagement) with the child (in
the form of caretaking, or play or leisure), (2) availability (accessibility)
to the child, and (3) responsibility for the care of the child, as distinct
from the performance of care.
Is Paternal Involvement Defined Too Narrowly?
Palkovitz (1997, p. 201) argues that involvement is "narrowly defined and operationalized," including only "direct child care and related housework" or "hands-on child care and housework." Lamb (2000, p. 25) observes that involvement reflected "a restricted focus on paternal nurturance and day-to-day child care." In particular, the involvement construct does not include fathers' bread-winning. Before considering this important exclusion, let's first review what paternal activities besides bread-winning are actually excluded.
the engagement component includes not just fathers' "care"
or "nurturant" activities, but all time fathers spent with
their children, with play specifically included. This is why the engagement
component was initially labeled with the broad term "interaction,"
rather than with a narrower term such as "care." In fact,
as illustrated by a New York Times op-ed article, "Superdad Needs
a Reality Check" (Rubenstein, 1998), some feminists criticized
the concept of involvement precisely because it includes non-caregiving
activities like play. Palkovitz (1997) proposes a broader formulation
of involvement that includes, besides caregiving, phenomena such as
communication, teaching, shared interests, shared activities, affection,
and emotional support. Since these activities generally occur in father-child
interaction, they are actually already included in paternal involvement
What about the exclusion of bread-winning? As researchers commonly do when proposing a new construct, Lamb et al. (1985) explicitly defined their focus. They noted that although "fathering surely includes a diverse array of activities involved in conceiving, feeding, provisioning, protecting, and rearing one's offspring," the involvement construct was intended to describe something more limited. Lamb et al. argued that it was appropriate to develop the narrower concept of involvement and its components "because they are undergoing particular change today" as well as because "psychologists have yet to consider paternal behavior in a more comprehensive fashion" (Lamb et al., 1985, p. 884).
Lamb and Pleck thus agree with the critics that fathering includes bread-winning. At issue is whether the concept of father involvement should include it. Christiansen and Palkovitz (2001) make the most explicit case for its inclusion. They argue, first, that economic providing is generally a prerequisite for involvement. Further, most fathers view bread-winning as a central aspect of fathering. Bread-winning in fact contributes to child development (Amato, 1998). Also, the meaning of involvement is incomplete unless providing is taken into account, e.g., if "attendance at a child's dance performance is measured at the exclusion of the sacrifice made in paying for dance lessons, the meaning of attending the dance performance is diminished" (Christiansen & Palkovitz, 2001, p.102). These arguments certainly underline the importance of taking bread-winning into account when interpreting level of involvement. However, they do not necessarily indicate that bread-winning should be considered as a form of involvement.
Is Paternal Involvement a "Deficit" Construct?
According to the critics, the construct of involvement is rooted in feminist-derived "fairness" or "gender equity" assumptions concerning the marital division of labor (Hawkins et al., 1993; Hawkins & Dollahite, 1997). These assumptions imply a "deficit perspective" about fathers (Palkovitz, 1997). As a result, involvement is implicitly defined as the way that mothers are involved with children, or assumes a "mother template" for understanding parenting. This is why the content of paternal involvement is defined so narrowly. The grounding of the involvement construct in the deficit perspective on fathering becomes clear if one considers how involvement might have been conceptualized differently had it been rooted in alternative context such as "generativity" theory (Hawkins et al., 1993).
Some evidence supports this criticism. In the initial presentations of the concept (Lamb et al., 1985, 1987) as well as more recent reviews (Pleck, 1997), data on paternal involvement is summarized by characterizing fathers' levels as a proportion of mothers', implying that mothers' levels of involvement should be a baseline. The concept's specification of a responsibility component clearly has equity overtones. Prior publications by Pleck (1977, 1979, 1983, 1985) suggest that one of the construct's principal authors indeed brought a feminist orientation to its development.
However, several points about the involvement construct are not consistent with the deficit interpretation. First, engagement would not have been defined to include fathers' play with children if involvement reflected only feminist concerns. As already noted, some feminists objected to the construct for this reason. Second, if the deficit perspective were the dominant influence underlying the construct's development and later acceptance, the responsibility component would have been developed further more than it has, since this is the involvement component in which fathers are least involved relative to mothers (Pleck, 1997). Third, perusal of recent research employing the involvement concept suggests that its use does not necessarily lead scholars to view fathering in equity terms (as examples, see Amato & Rivera, 1999; Bonney, Kelley, & Levant, 1999; Marsiglio (1991), NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2000).
In addition, the way in which the involvement construct actually served to counter the deficit perspective on fathers needs to be recognized. Prior to Lamb et al. (1985, 1987), the most frequently cited statistic about fathers' average time with children was 37 seconds per day, from Rebelsky and Hanks' (1971) analysis of verbal interaction recorded by a voice-activated microphone placed near an infant in 10 families (an average that was actually arithmetically impossible in light of the highest value reported). Lamb et al.'s (1985, 1987) findings that, averaging across studies, fathers' engagement time was one-third of mothers', and fathers' accessibility time was one-half, suggested that father involvement was actually considerably greater than had been previously thought.
Finally, concern about whether fathers are doing enough to reduce the burden on employed mothers was not the only reason for rapid acceptance of the involvement construct. Beginning in the 1990s, this concern began to be overshadowed by a more general apprehension about whether parents of both genders combined were spending enough time with their children. The concept of involvement, originally developed for fathers, seemed to give the public a term for what they thought parents were not giving enough of to their children. (The concern that parents spends less time with their children today than in the past is actually unfounded; see Chira, 1998, pp. 103-106; Pleck & Stueve, in press; Robinson & Godbey, 1997, pp. 104-106).
Is the Involvement Construct Grounded in White, Middle-Class Fathers' Experience?
Critics say that that the involvement construct has an inherent white, middle-class bias. The construct assumes that fatherhood has same meaning among all cultural groups (Palkovitz, 1997). Involvement "ignored sub-cultural variation in the definition and understanding of fatherhood," overlooking aspects of fatherhood that are more important in racial-ethnic minority fathers and non-middle-class fathers (Lamb, 2000, pp. 23-24).
On reflection, this criticism seems misplaced. The criticism of white middle class bias certainly applies to the concepts describing paternal behavior that social sciences developed prior to involvement. Constructs such as paternal warmth and responsiveness were first advanced in studies of samples almost entirely white and middle class, and rarely if ever investigated in other father groups. Prior to involvement, the social sciences generated only one construct about fatherhood using diverse samples, "father absence"--a concept regrettably much abused when applied to racial-ethnic minority families.
By contrast, the primary data for Lamb and Pleck's initial formulation of paternal involvement came from time diary and other time use studies with large representative national samples. These samples made it possible to characterize levels of involvement for diverse groups. Although the results of these comparisons were not emphasized in Lamb et al. (1985, 1987), they are stressed elsewhere (Pleck, 1983, 1985, 1997). In addition, the emergence of the involvement construct stimulated a large body of new research on fathers in diverse groups explicitly using a non-deficit perspective (Pleck, 1997), research that the social sciences' prior paternal constructs apparently could not.
Finally, the criticism that the involvement concept ignores sub-cultural differences in the understanding of fatherhood seems to assume that when the construct is applied to fathers who are not white and middle class, research gives the misleading impression that non-white, non middle class fathers are less involved with their children. Actually, in the available comparisons, majority and racial-ethnic minority fathers in father-present families either show no differences in average level of involvement compared to majority fathers, or the differences found favor minority fathers. The same pattern holds true for comparisons by educational level, income, and occupational prestige (Pleck, 1997).
Like any new construct, father involvement needs continued refinement and exploration. However, some recent criticisms of the concept are unfounded. Though excluding bread-winning, the content of paternal involvement is not as narrow in other respects as its critics indicate. The involvement construct is also not so closely linked to a deficit perspective on fatherhood, nor to the experience of white, middle class fathers as the critiques suggest.
Amato, P. R. (1998). More than money?: Men's contribution to their children's lives. In A. Booth & A.C. Crouter (Eds.), Men in families: When do they get involved? What difference does it make? (pp. 241-278). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Amato, P.R., & Rivera, F. (1999). Paternal involvement and children's behavior. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61, 375-384.
Bonney, J. F., Kelley, M. L., & Levant, R. F. (1999). A model of fathers' behavioral involvement in child care in dual-earner families. Journal of Family Psychology, 13, 401-415.
Chira, S. (1998). A mother's place: Taking the debate about working mothers beyond guilt and blame. New York: Harper Collins.
Christiansen, S. L., & Palkovitz, R. (2001). Why the "good provider" role still matters: Providing as a form of paternal involvement. Journal of Family Issues, 22, 84-106.
Hawkins, A. J., Christiansen, S. L., Sargent, K. P. & Hill, E. J. (1993). Rethinking fathers' involvement in child care: A developmental perspective. Journal of Family Issues, 14, 531-549.
Hawkins, A.J. & Dollahite, D.C. (1997). Beyond the role-inadequacy perspective of fathering. In A.J. Hawkins & D.C. Dollahite (Eds.), Generative fathering: Beyond deficit perspectives (pp. 3-16). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Hawkins, A.J., & Palkovitz, R. (1999). Beyond ticks and clicks: The need for more diverse and broader conceptualizations and measures of father involvement. Journal of Men's Studies, 8, 11-32.
Lamb, M. E. (2000). The history of research on father involvement: An overview. Marriage & Family Review, 29, 23-42.
Lamb, M.E., Pleck, J.H., Charnov, E.L., & Levine, J.A. (1985). Paternal behavior in humans. American Zoologist, 25, 883-894.
Lamb, M. E., Pleck, J. H., Charnov, E. L. & Levine, J. A. (1987). A biosocial perspective on paternal behavior and involvement. In Lancaster, J. B., Altmann, J., A. S. Rossi, & Sherrod, L. R. (Eds.), Parenting across the lifespan: Biosocial dimensions (pp. 111-142). Hawthorne, NY: Aldine.
Marsiglio, W. (1991). Paternal engagement activities with minor children. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, 973-986.
W., Amato, P., Day, R, & Lamb, M.E. (2000). Scholarship on fatherhood
in the 1990s and beyond. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1173-1191.
Palkovitz, R. (1997). Reconstructing "involvement": Expanding conceptualizations of men's caring in contemporary families. In A.J. Hawkins & D.C. Dollahite (Eds.), Generative fathering: Beyond deficit perspectives (pp. 200-216). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
J.H. (1977). The work-family role system. Social Problems, 24, 417-427.
Pleck, J.H. (1983). Husbands' paid work and family roles: Current research issues. In H. Lopata, & J. Pleck (Eds.), Research in the interweave of social roles: Vol. 3. Families and jobs (pp. 231-333). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
Pleck, J.H. (1985). Working wives, working husbands. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Pleck, J.H. (1997). Paternal involvement: Levels, sources, and consequences. In M.E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (3rd ed., pp 123-167). New York: Wiley and Sons.
Pleck, J.H., Lamb, M.E., & Levine, J.A. (1985). Epilog: Facilitating future change in men's family roles. In R.A. Lewis, & M. Sussman (Eds.), Men's changing roles in the family (pp. 11-16). New York: Haworth Press.
Pleck, J.H., & Stueve, J.L. (in press). Time and paternal involvement. In K. Daly (Ed.), Minding the time in family experience: Emerging perspectives and issues. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Science.
Rebelsky, F., & Hanks, C. (1971). Fathers' verbal interaction with infants in the first three months of life. Child Development, 42, 63-68.
Robinson, J. P., & Godbey, G. (1997). Time for life: Surprising ways Americans use their time. University Park, PN: The Pennsylvania State University Press.
Rubenstein, C. (1998, April 16) Superdad needs a reality check. The New York Times, p. A17.
What Does a Son Need From His Dad?
Author of Father Loss
What does a son need from his dad? As the father of a 7-year-old boy, I've long desired an answer to this question. I know how my father raised me, and I've watched a lot of other men commit fatherhood. But the essence of fathering has always eluded me.
Researching my new book, "FatherLoss," I saw a chance to examine the issue of good fathering. While my book focused on how sons deal with the deaths of their fathers, I took the opportunity to ask about the father's life as well. To the 70 men I interviewed in-depth, I asked: What did your father do that gave you strength? What did he do that made you feel valued? What was best about you father's way of fathering? In this article, I'll share three elements of "good fathering," as described by the men I interviewed. (Demographics of the sample are available at www.FatherLoss.com.)
first element of good fathering, according to sons, was AFFECTION,
Of course, some fathers did not easily go to physical affection. Perhaps they were raised without such contact with their own fathers, and found it alien, even unmanly. Fortunately, I discovered that affection could be administered in a variety of ways.
showed it by simply talking with, and listening to, their sons. Others
offered affection by intellectually engaging with their children playing
board games, doing crossword puzzles together, and the like. Still others
showed affection by taking an active interest in a son's schoolwork
or other endeavors. Ultimately, affection was less about physicality
than about loving attention by a father toward his son.
My father's blessing was especially important to me because I was concerned that I'd disappointed him. He'd put me through college, and now, five years into my career, I'd quit a good job with no plan for what I'd do next. When my father told me he was proud of the choices I'd made, I took it to mean that he supported me in my decision to stop and re-evaluate my career direction. I began to trust myself to make the right next steps.
One man I interviewed, a business executive, said he received a traditional Mexican blessing - a bendicion - from his father when the son left Texas at age 19 to look for work in California. The blessing, uttered by his father in Spanish, affirmed that the son was ready for the journey ahead, and called upon God and humanity to look after him. It also softened the son's feelings toward a father who had often been harsh and uncompromising. While this father, and my own, expressed blessings in straight-forward ways, other sons told me of more subtle blessings. One said his father blessed him by asking for his advice about family and financial matters. Another said he felt blessed, when he was invited to accompany his father to American Legion gatherings. "It was almost a rite of passage," the son recalled. "His taking me (to the Legion club) and buying me a beer made me feel accepted as an equal. I came into my own in his circle of friends." Why were blessings so important? For one thing, they tended to salve wounds the son had received from the father in childhood. And they often served as a hand up as well. Sons who received the blessings of their fathers frequently spoke afterwards of feeling more mature, more fully adult. It was as if the father was representing not only himself, but the adult male world, and the son had been accepted into it.
third element of good fathering was one I had not considered before
There are certainly other elements of good fathering, but these three serve were mentioned most often. They remind me of what my own son needs now, and what he is likely to need down the road.
Neil. (2001). FatherLoss: How sons of all ages come to terms with
Eulogy for my Father
Ronald F. Levant
Center for Psychological Studies
I stand before you today to pay my last respects, and to say my final goodbyes, to my father Harry G. Levant.
I have to admit at the outset that it is very difficult to do this. The difficulty is not just due to the obvious causes -- the sadness, the grief, and the sense of loss. Nor is it due to the confrontation with death in its utter finality, and the resulting fear regarding one's own mortality.
No, this is difficult for me primarily because of all of the unfinished business that I have with my father. And while a part of me continues to nurture the hope that, had he lived longer, I would have been able to finish my business, I have to acknowledge that this is not true.
Because, the fact is, it is very hard for sons to ever attain a really clear perspective on their own fathers.
I know this to be true from my 20 years of experience as a psychologist whose central interest has been fatherhood.
In the Fatherhood Course that I teach, this issue of son-father business usually comes up in the first class. We might be talking about why the men decided to enroll in the course, and after a few guys give the standard reasons, and others make some quips, the mood palpably shifts to serious as one father speaks, lower lip quivering: "You want to know why I am here? I'll tell you why I am here. I am here so that my little son Timmy will not feel as bad about me when he's grown up as I do about my own dad." The man's words hit the room like a hurricane, and soon the theme of father son business is on every man's lips. The fathers then become sons and talk about the grief, pain and bitterness they feel toward their own fathers.
Let's go into the classroom now, so that you can hear these men's voices:
"I never know what my father thought. He just would never talk about himself."
"I know he loved us because he was a good provider. He worked two jobs in order to put all five of us though parochial school and several of us though college. But I never knew if he liked me."
"To this day I wonder what he really thinks of me. Is he proud of me?"
"Every time I call home, Dad answers the phone, and it usually goes like this: `Hi. How are you? How's Liz? How are the kids? Everything ok at work? Here's mom.'"
"When my father was dying I took care of him. I did some pretty intimate things, like shave him. One night I bent over to kiss him on the forehead and he put up his feeble, shaky arm to push me away: `No son, men don't do that,' he said."
I also know how hard sons struggle with their relationships with their fathers from my own life, of course. As a son I have tried over a long period of time to transcend the intergenerational hierarchical boundary that defines the father as a father and the son as a son, in order to meet my father on a plane where we are both adults.
I worked for many years to reduce my own emotional reactivity to my father. I discovered a way to measure my progress: I would see how long it would take after I crossed the threshold into the family home for me to regress to the surly adolescent I once was. I worked on this for years and made modest progress.
During this time I learned that progress in this kind of work can be facilitated by a ritual event, the kind that signifies the maturity of the son. Well, I wondered what sort of event that would have to be for me, because it certainly didn't happen at my Bar Mitzvah (the Jewish boy's rite of passage), nor did it happen when I left home to go to college, nor when I married, nor when I became a father myself, nor when I earned my doctoral degree!
I had just about given up on ritual events until the wedding of my daughter Caren almost 10 years ago. That did it. My father and I seemed to relate a bit more easily from that point onward. And, as a dramatic punctuation to this transformation, my brother Lowell got into an argument with my father during the rehearsal dinner, an argument very similar to those that I used to find myself in.
Why is the son-father relationship so difficult? Being a son I can't quite shake the feeling that I am not really qualified to say, but I think it starts out with a series of miscommunications:
* Sons, banished from the comfort of a close relationship with their mothers at an uncomfortably early age lest they develop into sissies or mama's boys, look to their dads for some of that lost nurturance.
* Fathers feel a tremendous obligation to make their sons into men, in the classical/traditional sense of stoic, aggressive, self-reliant, stay-calm-in-the-face-of-danger manhood. As a result they feel that it is their job to wean their sons of their neediness, and to put a hard shell around their child's vulnerable emotions (such as fear, sadness, hurt and loneliness).
* Males as a rule are not particularly good at sensing other people's emotions nor in expressing their own, so the miscues that begin in early childhood get compounded over the years. Only rarely do they get resolved.
So where am I in all of this? Obviously I find it easier to talk about other people and things in general than to talk about myself as a son in relationship to my own father. And of course this reflects the fact that I do have unfinished business with him.
And just what is this business?
* First of all there is a deep yearning for a close relationship with him. I loved him and wanted to know that he loved me. It took years of work to get beyond the anger so that I could admit that to myself.
* Then there are a lot of son questions:
- What was it like for him to be my dad, especially during the early years when he was stationed in the Pacific during WWII and saw me only rarely? What did he think about during those long absences?
- What did he feel when he learned that, as a two year old living with my mother and maternal grandparents, I would open the shirt of any man who came to the house to check and see if he had enough chest hair to be dad?
- What was his reaction when at the age of four I packed my pockets with snow upon leaving Minnesota to reunite with him in California because I thought he would really like snow.
- Why was he always so tense and unhappy in that house on Ledgewood Road?
- Why was he so disapproving and angry at me?
Earlier this morning as I viewed my father's body at the mortuary, I pondered what I was going to do with all of this unfinished business, and I came to the following conclusions:
* He was a good provider and a responsible contributing member of the community. From working long hours as a printer, to owning his own printing shop, to working for others as an estimator, to his non-retired retirement of working for SCORE and being actively involved in the American Legion and the VFW, he gave it his all.
* Despite the outward argumentativeness, he and my mother Wilma were as close as two people can ever be, and I feel blessed that I was able to celebrate their Golden Anniversary two years ago.
* He had some spectacular talents. He could perform a long series of arithmetical operations with six and seven digit numbers entirely in his head.
* He had some severe limitations, some resulting from his own childhood, others from WWII. It is sad that he was so self-sufficient that he could never avail himself of help.
* He fully lived up to his standards, which were the standards of his generation, a generation unlike my own whose world view was shaped by the severe hardship of the Great Depression and the near calamity of WWII.
* He did the best he could with what he had.
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NOMINATIONS AND ELECTIONS
Sam V. Cochran, PhD
M. Robertson, PhD Lafene Health Center, Room 238 (UCS) Kansas State University Manhattan, KS 66506 Phone: (785) 532-6927 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lafene Health Center, Room 238 (UCS)
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506
Phone: (785) 532-6927
Division 51 Webmaster: Robert
A. Rando, Ph.D.