The Little Boy and the Grown Man

“For men, life is a series of separations and disidentifications, beginning with mother, whom they must leave and whom they must not be like. Expected to be little men, who do not cry, they go to kindergarten and from there, year after year, have two cultures to cope with. Inside the classroom, the world – especially in the beginning – is a feminine one. The teacher is a woman who rewards cooperation and neatness, order and schoolwork. 

In the schoolyard, the bigger boys are the bosses and being accepted by a male peer group is essential, because an isolated boy can be picked on or scapegoated. Conformity to the group norm is essential for survival in the schoolyard, and the dynamics of identification with the aggressor are played out there. A boy must straddle the two worlds of school and schoolyard, and he may fail at one or both.

In a patriarchal Zeus world, where economic rewards determine what has value, most successful men work with mental skills, in offices. Some of them are in their element, and thrive in this environment. A great many do not. Some are men who would love to till the soil, or make things with their hands, or make music, or teach young children, or do any number of things, and do not; they cut themselves off from this part of themselves to go to work in an office. 

The losses add up, until somewhere around midlife depression sets in, and with it comes feelings of sorrow, loneliness, a sense of meaningless.”

Gods in Everyman by Jean Shinoda Bolen

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