Therapy for Men: You Are Not A Rock, Nor Are You An Island
“Men get affected substantially by psychological trauma and negative life events such as divorce, bankruptcy, war and bereavement.”
-Professor Ridwan Shabsigh, Cornell University
The lyrics of Paul Simon’s song “I Am a Rock” deal with isolation and emotional detachment. When their marriage ends, men often attempt to appear as if they are unaffected, “like a rock,” that they have no need for relationships or that they are even happy about their divorce. Research and experience tells us that this outward show is not reflective of what is going on behind the façade. Men are not rocks. Men are not islands. Divorce is a traumatic event but therapy for men can help.
It’s key to note that in Dr. Shabsigh’s quote above, he includes divorce in the same sentence with war and death. Without interventional strategies such as therapy and medical support, the effects of divorce can be devastating on men’s physical and mental well-being.
Men tend not to seek emotional support from family members or a mental health professional and are likely to act on their feelings about divorce instead of talking through them. Divorced men have been found to be more likely than married men to engage in risky behavior and make destructive choices involving drugs, sex, and alcohol.
After divorce, men often begin working too much, increase social activities and get sick. That’s right, divorced men are more prone to disease of all kinds, from common colds to cancer and heart attacks. More research is needed, but some studies conclude that the mortality rates for divorced men are up to 250 percent higher than the rates for married men. It is also critical to note that divorced or separated men have a 39 percent higher suicide rate than that of married men.
So, while men express the painful feelings of grief and loss from divorce differently than women do, that doesn’t mean they aren’t experiencing a terrific amount of pain. It’s critical that men process these emotions in order to heal and move forward after divorce. If you are recently divorced and find yourself acting out in potentially destructive ways, you need to know that talking through these issues is critical to your physical and mental well-being. It could be life-saving if you are using drinking, drugs or sex to “bury” your emotions. You are not a rock, nor are you an island. Working with a therapy for men in a confidential setting is a healthy way to deal with divorce.
The Influence of Divorce on Men’s Health
Daniel S. Felix, W. David Robinson, Kimberly J. Jarzynka
Journal of Men’s Health. March 2013: 3-7.