Sunday, May 25, 2008

Boy Psychology

A good quote worth pondering from Moore and Gillette (1990), King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine.
The drug dealer, the ducking and diving political leader, the wife beater, the chronically "crabby" boss, the "hot shot" junior executive, the unfaithful husband, the company "yes man," the indifferent graduate school adviser, the "holier than thou" minister, the gang member, the father who can never find the time to his daughter's school programs, the coach who ridicules his star athletes, the therapist who unconsciously attacks his clients' "shining" and seeks a kind of gray normalcy for them, the yuppie -- all these men have something in common. They are all boys pretending to be men. They got that way honestly, because nobody showed them what a mature man is like. Their kind of "manhood" is a pretense to manhood that goes largely undetected as such by most of us. We are continually mistaking this man's controlling, threatening, and hostile behaviors for strength. In reality, he is showing an underlying extreme vulnerability and weakness, the vulnerability of the wounded boy.

The devastating fact is that most men are fixated at an immature level of development. These early developmental levels are governed by the inner blueprints appropriate to boyhood. When they are allowed to rule what should be adulthood, when the archetypes of boyhood are not built upon and transcended by the Ego's appropriate accessing of the archetypes of mature masculinity, they cause us to act out of our hidden (to us, but seldom to others) boyishness (p. 13).
The authors aren't against having healthy access to the boy inside of us, but they are seeking to help men grow into the mature forms of masculine relating.

I first read this book not long after it came out, while I was still in college. Back then I wasn't reading any of the integral work, so I didn't notice that the authors actually have a developmental model of boyhood archetypes (which makes me wonder if anyone has done similar work for women -- if anyone knows, please drop me a note).

Ken Wilber has been especially hard on the Jungians (Moore and Gillette build on and expand Jung's work) for confusing pre-rational archetypes with trans-rational archetypes, but the authors don't seem to make that mistake (more on this in another post). They see four distinct boyhood archetypes, each of which -- when successfully navigated -- becomes one of the four mature archetypes in the title of the book.

In a later post, I'll outline the four boyhood archetypes. For now, I think it is worth meditating on whether or not, or to what extent, we manifest boy psychology instead of mature masculinity. And, further, how does this impact our relationships?

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