Why Does Stress Cause More Depression in Men Than in Women?

Sex and gender differences are central to our lives. We all think about them, struggle with them, and seek to better understand them. From Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady who lamented “Why can’t a woman be more like a man” to Sigmund Freud who wondered “What do women really want?” to our nursery rhymes which taught us to believe that “Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice,” while “Little boys are made of snakes and snails and puppy-dogs tails” to Charles Boyer who proclaimed Vive La Différence!

There is an exciting new field emerging that offers new insights into the age-old questions, “Are men and women really all that different?” In a world that still limits the lives of women in significant ways, it’s not surprising that many feminists have argued that the differences between men and women are superficial and more the result of our sexist attitudes than real differences in the ways our brains and bodies are built.

However, an emerging new field called “gender-specific medicine” recognizes that sexism still exists and must be eliminated if women and men are going to reach their full potential, but there are real differences between the sexes that need to be understood and respected.

One of the leaders in this field is Marianne J. Legato M.D. In her book, Eve’s Rib:  The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine, she says, “Everywhere we look, the two sexes are startlingly and unexpectedly different not only in their internal function but in the way they experience illness.” Dr. Legato is a cardiologist who was one of the first clinicians to recognize that heart disease presents differently in men and women. Men feel a crushing pain in their chest, while many women experience fleeting pain in the upper abdomen or back, nausea, shortness of breath, and sweating. [Read more…]

For the First Time a Participatory Media Company Addresses The Changing Roles of Men in the 21st Century


I’ve been interested in the changing roles of men since 1969. As an expectant father, my wife and I had gone through the Lamaze childbirth classes together and were committed to bringing our child into the world as naturally as possible. I had been with my wife through twelve hours of labor. But when she was ready to go into the delivery room, I was asked to leave and join the other fathers in the waiting room.

I did as I was told, kissed my wife, and watched as she went one way down the hallway while I went the other way. But I couldn’t go through the waiting room doors. Something or someone was calling me back. I turned around, walked into the delivery room and took my place beside my wife. There was no question of my leaving. I felt I was being called by our unborn child. “I don’t want a waiting room father. I want a father who is here with us.”

When he was born shortly thereafter, I held my little boy, Jemal, and made a vow to him that I would be a different kind of father than my father was able to be for men and I would do everything I could do to bring about a different kind of world where fathers were not separated from their wives and children. I remembered my own father who was forced to leave our family when I was five years old because he had become depressed and enraged when he couldn’t make a living in his chosen profession.

In 1988, I started MenAlive to help men and the families who loved them to live long and well. In 2009, I read a book by Tom Mattlack, The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood. When I found out The Good Men Project would launch the following year, I knew I wanted to be one of the writers. There were three things that I liked immediately.

First, they really were having a dialogue that no one else was having and were open to a range of topics from my article, From Madness to Manhood: In Search of My Lost Father and Myself, to The 5 Stages of Love and Why Too Many Stop at Stage 3. [Read more…]

The One Thing You Must Do If You Want Love to Last

Love has been a complicated presence in my life from the very beginning. My parents had been trying, unsuccessfully, to have a baby for many years. My mother was finally able to get pregnant through a procedure of collecting and injecting my father’s sperm into her womb (a procedure that was “experimental” seventy-plus years ago). Being pregnant brought both joy and fear. I still remember stories about her walking, gingerly, down 5th Avenue in New York, afraid she might lose the baby.

When I was born, both my mother and father were overjoyed, but my mother was afraid something would happen to me and rarely let my father hold me. My father felt the pressure of being out of work and the shame at not being “the family bread-winner.” He became increasingly manic and depressed. When I was five years old, he took an overdose of sleeping pills and was committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital, just north of Los Angeles.

I got married shortly after graduating college, but the marriage ended after ten years. We both found it difficult to trust and were always worried that we would be left by the other. A second marriage ended badly. Well to be truthful, it started badly. The fact that she slept with a gun under her pillow should have been a tip off that she was not the best mate choice. Later in life when I became a writer I wrote a book, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions that described the ways we confuse healthy love with “love” addiction. For instance: [Read more…]

The One Thing That Kills Most Marriages

My wife, Carlin, and I were enjoying a wonderful dinner at the new vegan Caribbean restaurant in Willits when a friend and his wife saw us eating outside. “How’s the food here?” Henry wanted to know. “It’s great,” we told them. “It’s real, authentic, handmade, and delicious.” As we chatted they introduced us to Henry’s brother and his wife. They were in town for the wedding of Henry’s daughter. “I just happen to have a picture,” Henry said as he scrolled through his smart phon

There was a lovely shot of his beautiful daughter in a stunning wedding gown looking up at her new husband. There is so much hope and desire in their eyes. As a marriage and family counselor who has been working with men and women for more than 40 years, I can’t help but see both sides of the future: Marriages that end and marriages that last.

  • Approximately 50% of first marriages end in divorce.
  • 75-80% of men and women who have a failed first marriage will remarry, usually within five years.
  • However, 66% of second marriages and 73% of third marriages end in divorce.

Everyone who gets married says, “I do.” No one says, “I do…until…I don’t.” Everyone who gets married wants the “I do” to last “until death do we part,” but too often it ends before then. I know. It happened to me. Being a therapist, presumably an expert in understanding love and marriage, I thought I would beat the odds. But my first marriage lasted less than ten years and produced two great children. I followed the pattern and remarried after three years, but that marriage was short lived.

Before going for number three and facing the 73% divorce statistic, I decided I’d get to the bottom of what kills most marriages. I think I found the answer, at least one that made sense to me. I fell in love again and got married for the third time to a woman who had also been married twice before and had spent time learning how to have a marriage that lasts. All I can say is “so far, so good.” Carlin and I have been together now for 37 years. I can say we’re more in love now than ever and looking forward to another 37 years together and if there’s life after death, we hope to enjoy that together, as well. [Read more…]

From Madness to Manhood: My Father Escapes From the Nuthouse

We were planning to celebrate my 13th birthday with a dinner at my special restaurant, The Pump Room, which served my favorite dessert, a strawberry short-cake with homemade whipped cream. But the celebration was interrupted with a phone call from my uncle, Harry.

“Edith, Muni escaped from Camarillo today,” uncle Harry told her. I could hear his anxiety and worry coming through the phone lines as I put my ear close to the receive to listen.

What do you mean, he escaped,” she asked. I could hear the fear in her voice. “He’s been there seven years and the doctors told me his condition was chronic and untreatable and he could never leave.”

“Yes, I know. They told me that too. But he escaped.”

“How the hell did he escape?” Her voice was controlled, but I could hear the panic begin to rise.

“I went to visit like always and he seemed to be better so I took him into town to get an ice cream. He told me he wanted to get some stamps and went across the street to the post office. He never came back and I couldn’t find him.”

“How…”

“He just disappeared,” Harry said. “I looked everywhere, then finally went back to the hospital and told them. They’ve put out an all-points bulletin and they feel he’ll likely be apprehended and returned soon enough, but I wanted you to know.”

When my mother explained what had happened I was shocked and disoriented. After I stopped visiting my father when I was six years old, I stopped thinking about him. It was too painful. Bill entered my life and my father’s memory faded. My mother didn’t talk about him and he became a shadowy figure who slowly disappeared from my world, like cigarette smoke dissipating from the air. [Read more…]

The One Way to Resist Trump’s Shock Politics and Win Back the World We Really Want

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, it’s becoming clear that Donald Trump has not delivered on the promises that got him elected. Some still hope that he will “make America great again.” But the key promises that got him elected were these:

  • Make America safe.
  • Create jobs and get more people working.
  • Replace Obamacare with a better health plan.

There is no evidence that he has delivered on these promises or that he intends to do so. What he has delivered on is his promise to enrich the CEOs of corporate America, starting with himself and his family.

I’m reading Naomi Klein’s new book, No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. More than anyone I know, she helps us understand the Trump phenomenon, to place it in its proper historical context, and more importantly to show how to keep Trump’s brand of disaster politics from sucking the air out of our collective lungs.

When I read her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism it brought clarity to much of the chaos in the world that I felt unable to understand or make sense of. It became clear, for instance, that Hurricane Katrina was less a national disaster, than a Corporate opportunity to enrich itself. Following Katrina, New Orleans’s residents, many of them poor, were scattered throughout the country. Rather than seeing their communities rebuilt, they saw them being replaced. The rich got richer and the poor got removed. [Read more…]

From Madness to Manhood: Sunshine and Shame

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley was a delight. It seemed that summertime lasted forever and our little home in Sherman Oaks was the center of a wonderful universe from which I began to explore. The front yard was big and it was lined by trees, which I soon began climbing. I was a small, slightly built boy, always one of the shortest boys in my classes, a fact limited my potential to impress the girls. My mother always told me not to worry that I would grow to be a tall man, even though both she and my father were short. “Yes, but your uncles are tall,” she would tell me and I looked forward to the time when I would get my growth spurt. I hoped and prayed to be six feet someday, but I never grew taller than five feet, four and three-quarter inches.

There was a split rail fence that enclosed the yard without cutting us off from the neighbors. The split rails and the rest of the house was built by the man who sold the house to my parents in 1944 for $4,500. He had worked for the phone company. Times were difficult during the war years and the phone company couldn’t pay him. He finally had to leave to find a new job and the phone company paid what they owed him in telephone poles, which he used to build the house and the surrounding fence.

In addition to the fence, the house was made of roughhewn timbers. There was a large fireplace in the living room made out of stones that were brought in one at a time from the river that ran two blocks from the house. There was a large mantel piece above the fireplace where my mother placed mementoes from her time in New York. One I still have is small container with the face of an old man with a beard and turban and a cover on top. I always thought he looked very exotic, like one of the wise men who came baring gifts from afar. [Read more…]

From Madness to Manhood: Growing Up A Little In Love With Death

I wrote about my early experiences visiting my father in the mental hospital. Our home attracted death like a magnet. The same year my father went to Camarillo, a close friend of the family shot himself. I remember going to the service, confused and afraid, but no one talked about why he died. Yet, everyone knew it was suicide. Later that year my closest friend, Woody, drowned in the river near our house. My mother was so glad I was alive, she couldn’t listen to my own grief or feelings of loss.

My mother was preoccupied with her own death. From the time I was born, I knew my mother was about to die. She talked about it all the time. “I just hope I’m around to see you off to high school,” she would tell me. Her voice was always light and breezy, but it chilled me to the bone. When she was still around when I went to high school, she wasn’t reassured, she just moved her imminent death a little farther down the line.

“I just want to see you go to college before I die.”

I was seven when the Forester man came for a visit. We sat in our small living room and he painted a wonderful picture of the International Order of Foresters (IOF).

“The Foresters are a fraternal organization that started in Canada in 1874 to help families just like yours,” he smiled and I was mesmerized by his voice. I can’t remember much of the story, but I liked the word “fraternal” and I pictured Robin Hood and his band of caring outlaws, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. I thought of the Three Musketeers—“all for one and one for all.”

I knew we had very little money, but the bottom line purpose of the Foresters was to sell insurance and we bought the whole package. My mother signed up for insurance on herself, so I’d be taken care of when she died. She also bought an insurance policy on me because “it’s never too early to think about your wife and kids.” As a dutiful son, I felt proud to own an insurance policy to take care of my family…while I was still in the first grade. [Read more…]

From Madness to Manhood: In Search of My Lost Father and Myself

Camarillo State Hospital

“Kids have a hole in their soul in the shape of their dad. And if a father is unwilling or unable to fill that hole, it can leave a wound that is not easily healed.” Roland Warren.

I was five years old when my uncle drove me to the mental hospital. I was confused and afraid.

“Why do I have to go,” I asked Uncle Harry.

He looked at me with his round face and kind eyes. “Your father needs you.”

“What’s the matter with him?” I was beginning to cry and I clamped my throat tight to stop the tears.

I sank down into the leather seats of uncle Harry’s new Buick, a soft yellow beauty. It had four ventiports on each side of the engine that I imagined were eyes that could see into the future. The grill in front looked like an open mouth with huge teeth. I would worry that it might swallow me up if I got too close, but I felt safe inside the car.

Harry was a song writer and sang the words to one of his most popular songs, Sweet and Lovely, which had been recorded by Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald. He looked at me and smiled, patting my knee as he drove. “Sweet and lovely,” he crooned, “sweeter than the roses in May. Sweet and lovely. Heaven must have sent him my way.”

Harry called out the names of the towns as we drove through them–Encino, Tarzana, Calabasas. I loved the sound of the names and imagined them as kingdoms in far-away lands where I would slay dragons and rescue damsels in distress.

As we drove up to the building I didn’t know what to expect. Camarillo State Hospital looked like one of the old California missions with palm trees in front and a big bell tower in the center with adobe buildings that had grassy lawns in front. But as we got closer, I saw the windows. They weren’t like our windows at home, but had thick bars over them and they were painted a puke pink, like Pepto-Bismol. [Read more…]

The Most Important Health Discovery Ever (Really) That Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About

There are a million “health-hypes” making extravagant promises that aren’t worth your attention. This one is different, I promise. I first heard about it in 2009 from one of my colleagues, James L. Oschman, Ph.D., author of Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis. He told me about a forthcoming book called Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever. “I say without equivocation, as an experienced academic cell biologist and biophysicist, the research in the book describes what is perhaps the most simple and natural remedy against proliferating, painful, and often deadly conditions, including the diseases of aging.”

That got my attention, since I’m an older guy and was planning to run my first marathon in 2010. I needed all the help I could get. What I learned from the book not only helped me train without pain, but allowed me to finish the 26 mile, 385 yard run, and win a medal for being second in my age division (O.K., I’ll admit there were only two people in my age division who finished the race, but hey, we finished!) I later wrote an article, “My First Marathon: 7 Essential Life-Lessons Learned at Age 66.”

What I learned about Earthing, also known as Grounding, wasn’t just helpful for athletics, but also helped me deal with inevitable pains of aging, including neck, shoulder, and back pain and hopefully will help prevent more serious problems that result from chronic inflammation. I wrote about the discoveries in my book, Stress Relief for Men: How to Use the Revolutionary Tools of Energy Healing to Live Well.

When my book came out I was asked to speak at an energy medicine and energy psychology conference put on by Donna Eden and David Feinstein. At the conference, I met the person who discovered Earthing, Clint Ober. Like many discoveries that revolutionize how we see ourselves and the world, this one was sparked by one of those “aha” moments that seem to come out of the blue.

“My lightbulb went off one day in 1998, Ober recalled. “I was sitting on a park bench and watching the passing parade of tourists from all over the world. At some point, and I don’t know why, my awareness zeroed in on what all these different people were wearing on their feet. I saw a lot of those running shoes with thick rubber or plastic soles. I was wearing them as well.” [Read more…]