Healing The Male Psyche: Therapy As Initiation

by John Rowan

PART ONE: Materia prima and nigredo

Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION
Masculinity as pain
Problematising men and psychotherapy
Part of the problem and part of the solution
Masculine role as compulsive
The soft male
The initiated male
Therapy as initiation
Therapy as a new set of shackles
Two major contradictions
The alchemical process
Individual and group
Counselling and psychotherapy

Chapter 2: LIGHT FROM FEMINISM
Six positions
Patriarchy
Hegemonic masculinity
Power
Current feminisms

Chapter 3. A CASE STUDY: THE MAN WHO HATED WOMEN

PART TWO: Fermentatio

Chapter 4. DEVELOPMENTAL ISSUES
Early origins
Infancy
Research methods
Trauma
Separation
The false self
How socialisation happens
The adolescent male
Developmental tasks
Gender confusion
Identity problems
Psychiatric problems of adolescence
High costs
Fathers and fathering
Trust the process
The real I
The Horned God

PART THREE: Separatio
Chapter 5. WHAT IS IT WITH THERAPY?
Where does therapy come from?
Early days
The structure of psychotherapy
Critiques of psychotherapy
The feminist critique of psychotherapy

Chapter 6: THE PERSONAL/POLITICAL
The personal and the political
First person or third person
Responsibility
Behind or within
The Patripsych
A way forward

Chapter 7. WHAT IS THERAPY ABOUT?
A map of the realm
The mental ego level: Adjustment
The centaur level: Liberation and the real self
The subtle level: The soul
The causal level: The spirit
Psychotherapy integration: The duck-billed platypus and the sphinx
Implications

Chapter 8. WHAT HAPPENS IN THERAPY?
An alchemical analysis
Phase one: Getting started and building trust (Materia prima and Nigredo)
Identifying themes: Separating out the opposites (Fermentatio)
Exploring the past: Understanding the opposites and inner hierarchies (Separatio)
Dissolving the inner hierarchies and facing ambivalence; Accepting the opposites (Calcinatio)
Making changes: Living with the opposites (Albedo)
Connectedness: Expressing the opposites (Conjunctio)
Endings and new beginnings (Mortificatio and second Nigredo)
Phase two: Deeper explorations: Rites of passage (Solutio and third Nigredo)
Struggles: Deeper oppositions (Coagulatio)
Breakthrough (Sublimatio)
Integration (Rubedo)

PART FOUR: Calcinatio

Chapter 9. INDIVIDUAL THERAPY WITH MEN
Resistance to counselling
Male cycles
Sexuality
Normality as pathology
Sexiness
Good sexuality
What are we aiming at?
Penis and power
Case example
Grief work
Deep emotions
Father hunger
Gay and bisexual men
Ageing men

PART FIVE: Albedo

Chapter 10. MEN AND WORK
Communication
Interpersonal qualities
Changing patterns
Predictable crises of adult life
Presenting problems
Burnout
Men and friendship
Homophobia
Future trends

PART SIX: Conjunctio

Chapter 11. COUPLE RELATIONSHIPS
Different planets
The inexpressive male
Having the answer
The male ego
Nagging
Four types of relationship
Intimacy

PART SEVEN: Mortificatio and second Nigredo

Chapter 12. INTEGRATIVE GROUP WORK
Theory and practice
Learning in the group

PART EIGHT: Solutio and third Nigredo

Chapter 13. THE SEXUAL POLITICS GROUP
My own work
Some questions
Three types of work
The Shakti
The Lord of the Dance
Some further issues

PART NINE: Coagulatio

Chapter 14. TRAINING FOR MALE THERAPY
Establish contact with the client
Operate referral procedures
Establish working relationship with the client
Operate within agreed codes of practice
Monitor and evaluate own work
Identify, monitor and review progress with the client
Use of supervision

PART TEN: Sublimatio

Chapter 15. THERAPIST CONSCIOUSNESS
Training issues raised throughout
Learning about intimacy
Power and competition
Vulnerability
Sex roles
Therapist responsibility
A manifesto

PART ELEVEN: Rubedo

Chapter 16. INTEGRATION AND ACTUALIZATION
Initiation and paradox
Autonomy and connectedness
The Serpent Warrior
Going on

Appendix A: Should I take on this client?

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX

RATIONALE OF THE BOOK

Being a man in today’s world hurts. The male psyche is wounded, and needs to be healed. If men are to escape from the shackles of patriarchy, of the dominance society, of hegemonic masculinity, of the false faces they have been made to put on, they need to be initiated into a new kind of masculinity.
The word ‘initiation’ is used because nothing less will do. It is a kind of rite of passage which is required, where a man can move out of the old roles and into something else. Like all rites of passage, it involves aspects which are of the body, aspects which are of the emotions, aspects which are of the rational understanding, and aspects which are of the soul. The doors of the imagination must be opened.
In today’s world the old kind of initiation, which moved the person from one fixed role to another fixed role, is not an option. The roles are not fixed any more, and to the extent that they are, they are harmful. Today’s initiation must be unique to each person, personal to each man. We can say certain general things about it, as for example that simply reversing the existing stereotypes, and trying to produce a gentle, feminine man, is not the aim. We have to go beyond all the stereotypes.
Because the change required is so major, entailing nothing less than the undoing of many years of laborious conditioning – conditioning which is still going on, still being reinforced in many different ways – a weekend will not do. Five days or a week will not do. What is required is a continuous process, seeing the man through the ups and downs, the contradictions and paradoxes, the breakthroughs and the setbacks, the insights and the blindnesses. Only psychotherapy and the deeper kinds of counselling or personal growth can perform this task, because only therapy stays with the man through all his difficulties.
Many kinds of therapy are not up to this task. They have a limited philosophy, or inadequate aims; they have goals which are too highly structured or too pessimistic. Many therapists do not have the required skills. We have to be just as critical of therapy as we are of any other aspect of the patriarchal system. Therapy cannot be taken for granted: it must be problematized just as much as anything else.
In trying to understand what needs to happen, the alchemical model seems to be useful. It offers a sequence of processes, involving all the paradoxes, circlings and re-entries already mentioned. It helps us to see in a pictorial way that what is involved is a path of psychospiritual development, but one which we are all on already.
Given the right kind of therapy, given the appreciation of the need for initiation, there is hope for men to come through. It has been said that for change to take place, what is needed is dissatisfaction, and a vision of what is possible, and some idea of the first steps to be taken. This book offers all three. The male psyche can be healed.


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Dr John Rowan
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