IN THE COMPANY OF MEN by Marvin Allen

IN THE COMPANY OF MEN

Freeing the Masculine Heart
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Allen (director of the Texas Men's Institute) and Robinson (a freelance writer) show how the stereotypes men are raised with, as well as the allegedly dysfunctional parents who raise them, produce emotional cripples--and how talk-therapy fails them while the new rituals associated with Robert Bly will free them. Allen identifies six forms of dysfunctional fathers (``Critical''; ``Smart-Ass''; ``Passive''; ``Self-Centered''; ``Hostile''; ``Neglectful'') and seven types of dysfunctional mothers (``Smothering''; ``Seductive''; ``Dependent''; ``Martyr''; ``Abandoning''; ``Critical''; ``Hostile-abusive''). These parents, he says, produce two types of emotionally dysfunctional sons: the angry ``Kick-Ass'' and the passive ``Kiss-Ass'' (with subtypes of ``passive,'' ``paralyzed,'' ``passive/aggressive,'' and ``pleasing''), each of which is emotionally repressed, isolated, confused about grief and rage, incapable of expressing anger appropriately, and tending to erupt periodically to insulate themselves totally. Moreover, these men are incapable of inspiring or sustaining the love, approval, nurturing, and sexual gratification they need. A self-confessed dysfunctional son himself, Allen (who was beaten by his father) found traditional therapies to be unhelpful and so developed his own, based on a fear-of-flying course he took, on anger-release exercises (including beating a pillow with a bat), and on his first men's gathering with Bly. The author concludes with a discussion of what he calls ``creative masculinity,'' using as a metaphor/model the concept of the matador in the kitchen: If a man does it, it's necessarily manly. Allen disregards the many influences on a contemporary child's life other than his parents, and, while he redefines ``Wildmen'' as victims of childhood abuse, he fails to see that all abused kids will become damaged adults adapting in much the same way, regardless of gender. Still, a somewhat useful introduction to men's issues for those who prefer sloganeering psychologisms to the literary allusions of Bly.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-42287-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993