Dr. Fred: Jed, your book, Irritable Male Syndrome opened up my eyes to what I’m dealing with as a man. I can identify with the “irritable male” and have recommended the book to many of my clients and associates.What had you choose males as a focus for your writing and clinical practice?
When I began working in the field 44 years ago, most of the focus was on women. I felt the field of men’s health needed a champion.
Dr. Fred: Especially as they relate to the Third Age (45 to 75 years of age), would you summarize what are the key issues that men are dealing with?
There are issues that both men and women must deal with as we age: Aches and pains, illness, dying parents, young-adult children, etc. But there are also issues that are unique to men such as Male Menopause (Andropause), Irritable Male Syndrome, and male-type depression that I discuss in my books.
Dr. Fred: Much of what we offer our readers has to do with debunking the myth of midlife crisis and relating to midlife as a transition. What is your view on this subject?
I see mid-life, in many ways, as similar to adolescence. At both times of life we are making a major transition. In the case of adolescence, we are moving from childhood to first adulthood. In the case of mid-life, we are making the transition from first adulthood to what I call superadulthood. For the first time we have a chance to be truly who we were meant to be.
Dr. Fred: In the products and services you offer, you write on depression, menopause and irritable male syndrome. How are they related?
I think of these issues as three separate but overlapping circles. Male Menopause affects all men, sometime between the ages of 40 and 55, though it can start as early as 35 or as late as 65. Irritable male syndrome affects a smaller, but still significant number of men(perhaps 60-80%). Male-type depression affects a smaller number of men. We’ve assumed that women suffer depression at rates that are twice the rate of men. But my research shows that many depressed men are underdiagnosed and undertreated because we use the wrong criteria for diagnosis.
Dr. Fred: How would you distinguish or differentiate (key aspects) Irritable Male Syndrome from similar syndromes?
Irritable Male syndrome has four key causes: Hormonal fluctuations, changes in brain chemistry, increased stress, and changes in male identity. It takes a skilled practitioner to distinguish IMS from such things as depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, ADHD and other disorders.
Dr. Fred: You say that “IMS is ultimately about violence.” Would you elaborate on this?
We live in a world that is violent. We see it expressed in childhood where children are mistreated (including being circumcised, which I believe is a form of child sexual abuse). As we get older this destructive childrearing expresses itself in irritability,hypersensitivity, anger, and rage. When it is turned inward it can lead to suicide. When turned outward it can lead to violence and war.
Dr. Fred: What is it about men that has them be susceptible to IMS?
Some is our inherent hormone complement. Having testosterone makes us vulnerable to aggression. Many are familiar with the rage that results from taking anabolic steroids (so called ‘roid rage). We would see that in football players or weightlifters. Though it is a problem, it has really been overhyped. The real problem it turns out is not too much testosterone, but too little. When males lose their testosterone, they become more restless, irritable, and angry. Changing exercise patterns and dietary changes can be helpful. So can testosterone supplementation for some men.
Dr. Fred: Why is it important for women to be aware of this syndrome and Male Menopause?
IMS may be a problem going on within men, but it often impacts women. Many women have told me that their husbands irritability, anger, and withdrawal is undermining their marriage and causing problems within the family. They seek help for the man, but also for themselves.
Dr. Fred: In our culture, men tend to have a “lone ranger” mentality. They’re not overly communicative and often in denial about issues like depression and IMS. What can their female partners do that would assist their male partners in coming to terms with these issues?
Men are often afraid to seek help. They see it has unmanly. This includes even going infor their annual medical checkup. As one male client put it. “I go in for my annual check-up maybe once in 10 years.” Women are often the ones who gently, but firmly tell the man that he needs to get checked out. I have a whole program I’ve developed for women on how to help themselves while they are helping the man in their lives.
Dr. Fred: What in your view would most contribute to Third Agers experiencing authentic happiness?
We need to accept who we are and that includes the different changes that men and women experience as we age. Becoming an older man poses different challenges than becoming an older woman. We can learn a great deal from each other. But to do that we have to be willing to let go of “right” and “wrong” and seek ways to communicate and heal.
Dr. Fred: What new projects are you working on?
I have a new book: “Mr. Mean: Saving Yourself and Rescuing Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome” and I am working on a new book that I target for release by the end of the year titled, “Tapping Power.”
People can receive my Free E-Book: Andropause (Male Menopause) What Is This Crazy Thing We Are Going Through? by visiting my website http://SurvivingMaleMenopause.com