THE MALE PARADOX by John Munder Ross


Email this review


Joining the men's chorus with a different tune, Ross (a psychoanalyst who teaches at both NYU Medical Center and Cornell Medical College) suggests that both new and traditional male stereotypes prevent men from examining the central conflict and mystery within them--the tension between aggressive impulses and what they consider feminine. Men, Ross believes, avoid responses they consider feminine and assert their masculine identity through acts of aggression--a paradox they must recognize and value. Using extensive, divertingly detailed case histories from his research and clinical experience, he demonstrates how family dynamics and biology combine to influence this behavior and, too frequently, to interfere with men's happiness. What men don't want is examined from a psychodynamic point of view in separate chapters that follow the misfortunes of Don, a womanizer who can't commit; Peter, a married man secretly pursuing a gay life; George, a congressman suffering from impotence; and a variety of other troubled men. Ross concentrates on throe aspects of early childhood and adolescence associated with each cluster of problems, identifying the issues of each developmental stage and the ghosts men carry with them thereafter. He also presents an important discussion of the consequences of alcoholic and incestuous fathers and other violent abusers. A clearly written, easily followed argument, though some readers will resist its strong Freudian flavor because it leaves many men, especially homosexuals, out in the cold. But Ross's main message--that men must reject simple definitions of masculinity that deny its inherent contradictions--is worth pursuing.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster