Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Are Men Lonely at the Top?

I am reading a new book called Lonely at the Top: The High Cost of Men's Success written by psychologist Thomas Joiner. Initially I thought that this was just another book undermining men's success by proclaiming that if men are successful at work, they can be setting themselves up for loneliness and suicide by middle-age or beyond. This negative interpretation of men's success seems to pop up in the media and culture from time to time to punish men for not being "more like women."

That said, while I felt that Joiner's book subtlety promoted the message that if you are male and "on top," you would suffer for it, he also had some good ideas about how men could improve their mental health and did seem to have some empathy for his fellow man. He gives an example of his clinical treatment with a man who was depressed every November and couldn't figure out why. It turns out that 14 years ago, in November, his wife had left him after giving birth to their son. The man had been confused, never grieved her loss and instead, sunk into a depression. Once he understood what had happened and worked through the loss, the depression lifted.

Joiner makes a good point about men not seeking treatment often enough, though given the anti-male climate of the mental health crowd, who can blame them? However, instead of saying "get to a therapist if male and depressed," he gives simple and effective solutions that can lessen depression in men. These include phoning someone everyday or having even a short polite conversation, getting back to nature and getting good quality sleep which he says, is often difficult for men.

The book has some decent advice for men or their loved ones who want to decrease the depression in their lives. Just watch out for the PC chapters by the author such as the one entitled, "Causes, Don't Tread on Me--the Perils of Independence."

Good grief, without this independence, nothing would get done. The author does acknowledge that independence is important, along with connection, but sometimes connection is another word for submission. I get the feeling that this author is not keen on political autonomy if the reader is male and right-leaning.

Anyway, any thoughts from readers out there on loneliness and success for men? Do you think it is lonely at the top or is it just a buzzword for men acting more like women in our society?

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Blogger Zorro said...

1. I can't comment intelligibly on the left-leaning psychiatric profession, despite having seen eight therapists for a life-long malaise that has crippled my career ambitions and personal life. Then I read the first two chapters of No More Mr. Nice Guy, by Dr. Robert Glover. I am loathe to read "self-help" titles because they are 99% philosophy books with all intelligence bleached out of them. But WOW, did I find out what my problem was! I have no more use for therapists, nor much respect. When a $12 self-help book isolates the very problem that has afflicted me for my entire adult life, it kind of makes therapists a social redundancy.

2. Do men suffer at "the top?" I have read of many accounts of high-flying male executives who spent their lives slaving away at their careers only to see their children graduate from college barely knowing who Daddy was. Sure. Men sacrifice their lives for their families. And how sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have an ungrateful child. Most, if put to it, would have not thrown their lives away trying to make life best for the wife and brood, only to see the aggregate disappear into the backwash. But that's not for me to say.

3. Men should act more like women? I think that's kind of what Kay Hymowitz and Hanna Rosin are already claiming is going on. And how's that working out for anyone? Masculinity is now an official vice in humanity, and testosterone is the new how can you elect a woman executive when she'll have her period and flip out for three days every month? It was stupid then, and it's stupid now. Oh, and Tina Brown is thermonuclear stupid, as is Dan Abrams (that loathsome mangina fecal waste of a male hominid). Don't even get me started on that gender bullshit.

A very good post, Dr H, but I should read the book before posting more.

8:44 AM, October 26, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

well, when a guy called ryan gosling is supposed to be the strong silent type, we know that people's perceptions of what maleness is is being pfutzed with comprehensively.

lonely at the top? of course. the mind-set of the true achiever is vastly different form that of the also ran and those who barely try at all.

we (those of us with a higher than average desire to win) tend to alienate others with our aggressiveness, as i understand all too well, having become tired of most of my friends and associates as they have settled into middle age with a 44" waist and a mommy wife to tell them what to do.

i have nothing to talk about with them. they want to blather on about barbecue orgies and facebook nattering, and i have nothing to offer back but what interests me...which doesn't interest them in the least.

i have much more in common with my clients/students as they are striving for something better in their lives, as are my friends and colleagues on the soccer field.

and zorro, two things. firstly, well done standing up for yourself and finding self-help. (there is no other kind.) and secondly to disagree with the idea that many self-made guys are dedicated to their families. i think most self-made types are obssessives and compulsives for the most part, and only secondarily interested in family. i have had many as clients, and they were all driven to kill the pig alright, but the bacon went all over the place.

10:04 AM, October 26, 2011  
Blogger BobH said...

I'm not sure if this is related, but I seem to recall a Harvard psychologist saying, at least a decade ago, that some people handled trauma better by letting it become less salient, basically ignoring it, than by talking it through. The example male's problem seemed that he was unable to let it fade and to move on. Or maybe he just couldn't invent a "satisfactory" set of attributions for the trauma.

10:06 AM, October 26, 2011  
Blogger DADvocate said...

It seems lonelier at the bottom than the top.

1:19 PM, October 26, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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4:00 PM, October 26, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

No, you're not a winner. You're Charlie Sheen.

Now kindly step off of the caps lock and go make your bed.

4:13 PM, October 26, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:50 PM, October 26, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



5:10 PM, October 26, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

Hold your Coke with both hands and stop posting.

7:29 PM, October 26, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

Men are just receiving what unmarried and non-mother women have been getting for centuries. If you don't live a culturally-acceptable lifestyle then you are subject to shame and pity. This book tells us that men who devote themselves to succeeding in the business world will for sure be susceptible to loneliness, depression and suicide. The solution is simple: succeed less, couple up and have children. This isn't about being more like women, this is about making sure everyone follows the status quo.

The next time somebody says the word "empathy" I am going to hurl chunks.

10:50 AM, October 27, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

@Cham: +1

3:33 PM, October 27, 2011  
Blogger Ern said...

As Tim O'Brien wrote:

It's lonely at the top,
But not only at the top.
If this working man were you,
He'd just enjoy the view.
It's lonely at the bottom, too.

4:30 PM, October 27, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

@cham, is that an order, succeed less, couple up and have children?

that's a ridiculous suggestion. you would be setting yourself up for a living hell.

women despise men who succeed less. (or fail.)

they say they want sensitive, caring and attentive, but they respond to male, assertive and aggressive.

4:51 PM, October 27, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

"women despise men who succeed less. (or fail.)"

Yes, and with a blind fury. Women view low status men as interlopers on their private preserve. They fear the contagion of their lack of industry will spread. And once married, they develop a heartfelt disdain for happy bachelors. Nothing imbues a sense of insecurity to a wife as when her husband sees a wifeless man living a great life. I've lost most of my friends to wives in this way.

"they say they want sensitive, caring and attentive, but they respond to male, assertive and aggressive."

Female hypergamy in action. Mystery, Heartiste (Roissy) and Nick Savoy know more about women than David M. Buss ever will. And that is why women loathe the PUA crowd. Their shameful little secret is out and has gone viral on the Internet.

Still, I do admire Cham's regard for this sniveling concept called empathy. Common sense is anything but common, and people who champion empathy usually have none of the stuff.

6:12 PM, October 27, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

"Empathy" is the current word used to bully, guilt and shame people for any perceived infraction.

7:51 PM, October 27, 2011  
Blogger Kim said...

Yeah, it can be lonely at the top. That's the definition of "being at the top": it's the responsibility of the thing, and the knowledge that you are "higher" (not necessarily "better" -- an easy trap to fall into -- than your peers).

I suspect, however, that it's no different for men at the top than for women in the same position; there are just more men in that place than women.

It occurs to me that a lot of this loneliness is overcome by seeking out other men "at the top", whether at places like exclusive country clubs, or even groups which are formed among people in like situations. The problem is that men don't like to admit any problems -- that's akin to showing weakness, which is deadly for high achievers -- and empathy is not something to be shared among men, because it can make you vulnerable.

BTDT have the scars.

8:36 PM, October 27, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:37 PM, October 27, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:04 AM, October 30, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

pretty strong words for "profile not available", though some women are in that category, without a doubt.

5:41 PM, October 30, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:58 PM, October 30, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:59 PM, October 30, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

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3:23 PM, October 31, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

the pattern of deleted comments is similar to that of a particularly irritated person who used to post here some time ago.

7:43 PM, October 31, 2011  

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