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…]

Testosterone: 10 Surprising Things Every Woman and Man Needs to Know

In her book, Eve’s Rib:  The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine Marianne J. Legato M.D 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.” To begin with there are 10 trillion cells in the human body and every one of them is sex specific. The poet, Robert Bly, glimpsed this scientific truth when he wrote that boys need to be in the company of older men “in order to hear the sound that male cells sing.”

Until recently scientists believed that our genomes were 99.9% identical from one person to the next. “It turns out that this assertion is correct,” says David C. Page, M.D., professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),  “as long as the two individuals being compared are both men.  It’s also correct if the two individuals being compared are both women.”  New research from Dr. Page’s lab shows that the genetic difference between a man and a woman are 15 times greater than the genetic difference between two men or between two women.

One of the most significant differences is in our levels of the hormone testosterone. Testosterone is often called the “male” hormone. However, both men and women produce this hormone.  Did you know?

  1. Men have 20 to 40 times more testosterone (T) than do women.

This is one reason why our sex drives are so different. Men don’t think about sex all the time as some people believe, but we do think about sex, generally, more than women.

  1. Testosterone is responsible for the sex drive in both men and women.

When our sex drive begins to diminish as we age, the problem may be low T in men and women. Many women, and men, don’t realize that testosterone is important in keeping a woman’s sexual desire up.

  1. Testosterone can be converted to estrogen, but not the other way around.

[Read more…]

Inside My Men’s Group: The Hidden Truths I’ve Learned Over the Last 38 Years

I knew I needed a men’s group in the worst way. I had just returned to the San Francisco Bay area after a cross-country trip with my wife. We had hoped to save our marriage, but the trip nearly killed us, or rather it nearly killed me. My wife was a violent woman who slept with a gun under her pillow to “protect herself from men.” We had been married for two years and I suspected that I was in another abusive relationship and if I didn’t get out soon, I might never leave alive.

The flyer posted on the bulletin board in Mill Valley said, “A Day With Well-Known Men’s Activist Dr. Herb Goldberg.” I had recently read Goldberg’s book, The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of Masculine Privilege and resonated with the words from the introduction. “The male has paid a heavy price for his masculine ‘privilege’ and power. He is out of touch with his emotions and his body. He is playing by the rules of the male game plan and with lemming-like purpose he is destroying himself—emotionally, psychologically, and physically.”

I met for the day with twenty other guys who ranged in age from mid-20s to mid-50s. We had our own reasons for being there, but each of us was looking for the understanding and support most of us had never gotten from men. In one of the exercises we did in the workshop, we were asked to reflect on ways we had been wounded by other men in our lives.

I recalled my father who had become increasingly irritable, manic, and depressed with he was in his 40s. He took an overdose of sleeping pills and was sent to Camarillo State Mental Hospital north of Los Angeles. I was five years old at the time. I somehow felt responsible for his leaving and grew up wondering if I would become mentally ill.

Following the one-day workshop with Herb Goldberg, one of the organizers asked if anyone was interested in a regular men’s group. The following Wednesday, ten of us met at Tom’s house on Thalia street in Mill Valley. We agreed to meet weekly and the group soon narrowed to seven guys. We’re still going strong after 38 years. Over that time two guys dropped out and two were added. The “new guys” have now been in the group 25 years. One man died a few years ago and we are still grieving his passing.

We continue to provide love and support and to challenge ourselves to go deeper. If you want to get a feeling for what goes on in a men’s group I highly recommend the recent film by my friend Joseph Culp called “Welcome to the Men’s Group.” It’s a feature length production that isn’t about our group, but captures the kinds of things our group has dealt with over the years.

Here are a few of my own highlights of the group: [Read more…]

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Marijuana: The Definitive Guide to What the Experts Now Know

2017 may be the year that marijuana (cannabis) has its full coming out party. As TIME magazine reported on November 9, 2016, “When California voters approved Proposition 64 on Tuesday, the basic idea was simple: a majority of people in America’s most populous state believe that adults should be able to consume marijuana if they feel like it, like a glass of wine at 5 o’clock.”

TIME got additional information from Amanda Reiman, the Drug Policy Alliance’s manager of marijuana law and policy. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation’s leading organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

I began working in the field of drug abuse prevention and health in 1968 after I graduated from U.C. Berkeley and started a therapeutic community program to help people recover from problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse. It soon became apparent that helping people with their problems was made more difficult by laws that criminalized use, rather than making use a health issue. This unnecessarily increased people’s level of anxiety and depression, and kept people from getting the help they needed.

In 1973 I wrote the first of many professional articles to expand our understanding of drugs and how they impact people’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior, both positively and negatively. In the article, I wrote,

“The drug problem in this country continues to get worse, and the programs that we have developed to combat the problem are actually adding fuel to the fire. The laws that have been developed over the past 60 years have done nothing to discourage the use of drugs. Their effect has caused the criminalization of millions of otherwise law abiding citizens.”

I went on to say,

“Legal restrictions on mind active drugs have produced a new industry that has proven extremely profitable to legal drug manufacturers and salesmen as well as the illegal drug entrepreneurs. The huge profits to be made in the drug business have caused corruption in large segments of society.”

Well, as Bob Dylan reminds us, the times, they are a changin’. As of January 2017, 28 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for the treatment of medical conditions. Eight of these states and the District of Columbia have also legalized cannabis for recreational use. In addition to the growing availability of legalized cannabis, there has also been a rapid expansion in the types of available cannabis products, including edibles, oils, and a variety of inhaled substances. [Read more…]

Want to Save 32,000 Lives a Year? It May Be As Easy as Seeing A Female Rather Than a Male Doctor

I still have a vivid memory of my first doctor, Dr. Minden. No one likes to see a doctor and I can still remember the fear of getting the immunization shots that were part of growing up. But doctor Minden was always so kind and caring, it made whatever I had to endure worth going. I knew that whatever he did was always done to help me and that any momentary pain would be short-lived. I was heart-broken when I grew older and learned that he was a “kid’s doctor” and I had graduated to adult doctors.

Part of the reason I went to medical school was to become the kind of doctor I remember Dr. Minden being. Part of the reason I left medical school was the kind of education I was getting was harsh and abusive rather than kind and caring. When I was in medical school, there were only a few females in my class. Now women outnumber men in medical schools (and colleges) and profession is shifting.

It seems that the care and compassion I remember from my childhood doctor are seen more commonly in female than in male health care providers. So, I’ve always sought out female health-care practitioners over the years. Compared to the male doctors I had, they were more  engaged and involved. They were much closer in spirit my childhood doctor Minden. I suspect that all doctors would be better doctors if they spend significant time learning about healing from children.

Now a new study by doctors from Harvard have found that we could save 32,000 lives a year if we saw female doctors as opposed to male doctors. After examining the medical records of Medicare patients from across the country, the Harvard researchers calculated that 10.82% of those treated by physicians who were women died within 30 days of being admitted to the hospital. Among patients treated by male physicians, the 30-day mortality rate was 11.49%, according to a study published recently in in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The differences between male and female providers persisted even after the researchers accounted for factors like the age, gender and income of patients, how sick those patients were when they first checked into the hospital, the resources of the hospitals and the experience of the doctors. There seems to be something about the qualities of being female that pays off in better health care. [Read more…]

Jed Diamond’s Trends and Predictions for 2017

18dsfu_vpzi-shane-hauserFor me, 2016 was a time of massive change. My wife and I moved from our home of 25 years in the beautifully quiet hills outside of Willits and bought a home in town where we could walk everywhere. I turned 73, which isn’t an obviously important age like 21, 60, 75, 80, or 100, but it was the year I healed old wounds, learned to love, and let go of fear.

I wrote about my process in a series of articles: (1) The Soul’s Code: Embracing My Destiny as a Man (2) My Mother, My Wife, My Marriage: How Inherited Family Trauma Can Impact Our Relationships; (3) Lost Fathers: How Deaths, Divorces, and Disconnections Impact Our Health and Happiness.

On the world stage, Time Magazine notes, “Between historic elections, populist movements in America and Europe and the loss of Prince, Muhammad Ali, Leonard Cohen, and more, 2016 was a year like no other. In the last 12 months, Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, the U.K. voted to leave the E.U. and the world witnessed the destruction of Aleppo and the desperation of its citizens through social media. In moments of hope, nearly 200 countries ratified the Paris climate change agreement, refugee athletes competed in the Olympics, the Chicago Cubs broke a century-long curse to win the World Series, and Native American water protectors stood firm at Standing Rock.”

Each year I pick a Tarot card from the Voyager Deck. For 2017 it was “The Magician.” Here’s what it said, in part: “The magician symbolizes the law of talent. Magic comes from the ancient Magh, meaning power. Your power comes from being a channel for the universe.” So here are the things I see coming in 2017:

  1. Love and fear compete for our attention.

In 1979 Gerald Jampolsky, M.D., wrote a little book, Love is Letting Go of Fear. In the introduction he says, “In 1975, the outside world saw me as a successful psychiatrist who appeared to have everything he wanted. But my inner world was chaotic, empty, unhappy, and hypocritical. My twenty-year marriage had recently ended in a painful divorce. I had become a heavy drinker and had developed chronic, disabling back pain as a means of handling guilt.”

Jampolsky found personal healing in A Course in Miracles, and founded the first Center for Attitudinal Healing in Marin County (My wife, Carlin, was one of the early volunteers). There are now centers throughout the world based on this simple statement: Teach only love for that is what you are. 2017 will bring multiple opportunities to promote love or fear. Choose love.

  1. Mental illness and mental health are turned upside down.

My father was the black sheep of the family. His brothers were all successful businessmen who focused on the bottom line and made lots of money. My father was a dreamer who wanted people to love each other and he became increasingly depressed when he couldn’t fit into the system. He was sent to a mental hospital, diagnosed as manic-depressive, and given shock treatments. He later escaped from the “nut house” and became a successful puppeteer in San Francisco and taught people from different cultures how to love one another. [Read more…]

The Soul’s Code: Embracing My Destiny as a Man

8muutamcwu4-jez-timmsLearning to make sense of our lives and fully embrace who we are is a life-long journey. I’ll be 73 years old in December and have been spending time recently reflecting on my life. In his book, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling, James Hillman says that we must answer two related question about our lives:

  1. How do I put together into a coherent image the pieces of my life?
  2. How do I find the basic plot of my story?

I took another step in answering these questions when I spent time with philosopher Pierre Grimes, author of Philosophical Midwifery: A New Paradigm for Understanding Human Problems. In my article, “A Little in Love with Death: My Healing Encounter with Pierre Grimes,” I describe my upbringing and my mother’s preoccupation with death and dying.

Soon after my birth my mother was convinced she would die before I was out of high school and bought a life insurance policy she couldn’t afford so I’d have money after she was gone (In face, she lived until she was 80). She also got a life insurance policy for me when I turned five, insisting you can never start too soon to take care of your family after you’re gone. When I started nursery school she was already preparing for my life after she was dead and for the life of my wife and family after I died.

My mother married my father on the rebound when the man she truly loved was sent to Europe on assignment as a writer for the New York Times. I don’t think their marriage was a happy one and I don’t think my father ever felt truly loved. He suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. We now view depression as a “brain disease” and treat it with drugs, but that may not be the best way to look at these problems. [Read more…]

A Little in Love With Death: My Healing Encounter with Pierre Grimes

pierre-grimesIntroduction: I attended the 4-Day Sacred Path Men’s Retreat to recognize and support Stephen Johnson’s life and work and pay tribute to the men who have made possible these retreats over the last 30 years. I had never heard of Pierre Grimes, know little about philosophy, and next to nothing about the Greek philosophers. Yet I know when I’m in the presence of a master and took Pierre up on his offer to work through a dream and a daydream I had. I had no idea it would change my life.

Basic information: My parents were married on my mother’s birthday, October 5, 1934. The story I learned was that they tried to have a child, but were unsuccessful until they tried an experimental procedure of injecting my father’s sperm into my mother’s womb. I was told I was the “miracle baby, they had always wanted, with my birth December 21, 1943. They were sure I was going to be a girl and had dolls waiting along with an assortment of agreeable girl’s names. When the baby arrived sporting a penis, they had to quickly settle on a name.

My name: When I was born, I was named Elliott Diamond. I was named after my father’s nephew who had recently died. The story was that my mother cried for days until my father relented and I was given the name my mother preferred John Diamond, adding Elliott as a middle name. This time I was named after my mother’s dead father, John.

My life focus: I’ve always thought of myself as special, that I was a wanted child who brought great joy to my family. But there was a darker undercurrent of death that invaded my life.

Surrounded by death as a child: Soon after my birth my mother was convinced she would die before I was out of high school and bought a life insurance policy she couldn’t afford so I’d have money after she was gone.

She also got a life insurance policy for me when I turned five, insisting you can never start too soon to take care of your family after you’re gone. When I started nursery school she was already preparing for my life after she was dead and for the life of my wife and family after I died.

A close friend of family, Holly, shot himself in 1948 when I was five years old.  I remember going to the service, confused and afraid, but no one talked about why Holly died.  Later that year my closest friend, Woody, drowned in the river near our house. My mother was so glad I was alive, she wouldn’t listen to my own grief or feelings of loss. [Read more…]

Welcome to My Men’s Group: The Five Critical Things I Learned in the Last 37 Years

mens-groupMy men’s group meets again on Wednesday. It’s hard to believe that the group has been together now for 37 years. Over that time, two men have left, two new men have been added (our newest member joined twenty years ago) and one man died. There are six of us, now, and we have developed bonds of love and connection that are like nothing else in this world. We began meeting once a week for seven or eight years. Now that we’re more spread out, we meet four times a year for a five day retreat.

My wife, Carlin, says she believes that a lot of the success of our 36 year-marriage can be traced back to the things I’ve learned during the 37 years I’ve been in the men’s group. Recently our group viewed an exciting new film by my friend and colleague Joseph Culp who wrote, produced, and acted in the film. It’s called Welcome to the Men’s Group. It’s the first, feature-length film that takes you inside the hearts and souls of men who have made a commitment to each other to become better fathers, better husbands, and better men.

I’m often asked, “What really goes on inside your men’s group?” Now I can say, watch the film. During an entertaining two hours, you will get a unique glimpse into the lives of men and what men really want and need today. Women will be particularly moved by what guys say and do when there aren’t any females around. You can help get the film shown widely by supporting the Indie-Go-Go Fundraiser, and receive some fabulous perks, including copies of my new book, The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the  Best is Still To Come and here’s my new online course. 

 The film touches on many important themes. Here are the five most important things I learned during the last 37 years in my men’s group: [Read more…]

Why Men Write: Life, Death, Sex, and Soul

302942066_6139e6473d_zMy first book, Inside Out Becoming My Own Man, was published in 1983, but I began writing long before that. As far back as I can remember I’ve been asking questions. What does it mean to be a man? Are there essential differences between men and women? Why so many men kill themselves and kill others? I don’t just write for men. I’ve found that women, too, are vitally interested in “men’s issue” since they are so intertwined with “women’s issues.”

Prior to my birth my parents were sure I was going to be a girl—something about which direction a needle on a string swung when held over my mother’s belly. When I emerged in the world they had girls dolls waiting for me and a number of girl’s names picked out, but seemed totally surprised when they saw my little penis.

My first introduction to the world of men occurred eight days later when my father held me down and the mohel (circumciser) cut off my foreskin. The story was that I screamed bloody murder, arched a stream of urine over my head and hit my father in the eye. It was many years before I wrote The Warrior’s Journey Home: Healing Men, Healing the Planet, and said that circumcision was a form of child sexual abuse. But my 8-day-old self knew the truth even then.

I have vague memories of my mother holding me as an infant, but remember little about my father. Later stories I heard from my aunt said, “Your mother was so fearful that something would happen to you, she rarely let your father hold you. She was very protective and kept you close to her all the time.”

I know my father did his best to stay connected. I have one picture of me riding on his shoulders when I was four years old in a park in Sherman Oaks where I grew up in the San Fernando Valley. But memories darkened when my father tried to take his own life when I was five year’s old. The economic depression of the time and his own internal feelings of failure and loss combined to drive him to a point where he thought everyone would be better off without him. Though he survived physically, our lives were never the same and I began my quest to understand what happened to my father and if whatever it was would happen to me. [Read more…]