Why Men Don’t Feel
Recent scientific studies have been strongly indicating that the traumas of men from previous generations affect the RNA in sperm, which in turn has a direct effect on the RNA in the following generations – influencing metabolism, psychological health and which diseases the offspring become more susceptible to. In the past decade the relatively new science of Epigenetics has opened up the field of science to the knowledge of how both trauma AND memories can be passed from generation to generation and lead us to be more susceptible to not only auto-immune illness, but also other forms of health challenges.
Having said the above, are we to conclude that we are then bound by our DNA and RNA sequencing and are therefore powerless to do anything about our inherited ailments, phobias, psychological conditions, fears and beliefs? The conclusion that the experience of thousands of healers across the globe encourage us to reach the following conclusion. If shock and trauma can effect changes in our DNA and RNA, then love can do the same.
The Legacy of Being Male
So many women struggle with having relationships with men they experience as either not being ‘in touch with their feelings’ or for being intellectually centred. Is this just a ‘male’ thing? Is it simply the nature of men? To a degree, perhaps. However, most of the living form an intellectual centre that a good percentage of men experience is inherited. Furthermore deeply influenced by trans-generational trauma. It is not only perhaps the nature of men to be more intellectually centred*, but also perhaps the traditional roles of men that have greatly contributed to many generations of either numbness or an inability to access deeper feelings.
As a healer and Family Constellations facilitator I’ve seen countless times how the traumas of Fathers, Grandfathers and Great-grandfathers are felt by the younger generations – and not only felt, felt to the degree that the trauma is experienced as belonging to the younger generation. In other words, a Grandfather’s trauma can be lived as the grandson’s depression, anxiety, eating disorders, alcoholism, bi-polar, schizophrenia, diabetes or obesity.
What happens in War?
Barely a generation has slipped by in much of the world without a generation of young men being sent off to war. On the battlefield they face the very real fear of their own death and witness the death of friends, fathers, uncles, nephews, sons, brothers and neighbours on the battlefield. Many of the deaths are gruesome, many start with their beloved friend being maimed first, loss of limb and terrible injuries are commonplace. It has been said on the battle fields of northern France, Gettysburg in the USA, what could heard in the still of night were the voices of wounded young men calling out to their mothers.
However, those who are left are to follow orders and ‘pull themselves together’ in order to continue with their duties. In essence, the trauma is internalised and often not expressed. Most of us have had the experience of having been in an emergency situation and simply going into action – not giving a moment’s attention to the emotional trauma unfolding or to our own feelings – simply allowing will and action to take over so that the emergency can be dealt with. Afterwards, when all is settled, this is when we feel it and often tears or anger, bereavement or other emotions rise to the surface to be flushed out of our system. Now imagine if that ‘emergency situation’ lasted for two, three, four or five years? Running on auto-pilot as a coping mechanism would become the norm and gradually we may even lose our ability to access the deeply held feelings unless with professional help.
If just one traumatic even can have an effect on the sperm, and therefore the RNA and DNA passed on to the following generation, what then could WWI and WWII do to the following generations? What then would be the effect of 200 plus years of African-American slavery be? The slaughter of generations of Australian Aborigines? Native Americans? Jewish men? Of course these traumas also affect women, however, the traditional roles of men have an added trans-generational impact, not only owing to war.
Infant Mortality Rate
Prior to 1900, infant mortality rate in Europe and North America was around 30%, in previous centuries going back to the Middle Ages, infant mortality rate in Europe is estimated to be up to 50%. The loss of a child cannot be underestimated in terms of its traumatic impact on both parents. However, within the scope of this article we are looking at the influence on men.
With the traditional roles of men, labour was the first priority. The man is the breadwinner and therefore, just like in war, he must ‘pull himself together’ in order to earn the daily bread. As the suppression of feelings were initiated as a necessity, out of a need to survive either on the battle filed or financially, the greater the prevalence the more this suppression simple became part of male make-up. What started as suppression became ‘normal’ and ‘how men are’.
This deep pattern has had a direct influence on behaviours such as alcoholism and domestic violence. When there is no outlet for feelings, they tend to become distorted and manifest destructive ways.
“Your great grandfather has just returned from a bloody and treacherous war. He saw his best friend die right in front of him and he continues to have nightmares about the man’s eyes he saw as he shot his enemy. He’s twenty three years old and has now returned home to marry his sweetheart. Now that the war is over, it can be forgotten in the arms of his beloved.
Such joy after the wedding, his beloved is expecting their first child and he’s just received news of a possible promotion at work. Life could now not be any better. It turns out to be a difficult birth and his new born young son dies just hours afterwards. The women gather round to comfort his beloved wife and your great –grandfather goes back to work the following day. He has to cope, he must do, and that is his only choice. Furthermore, he fears for his son’s soul – for he has been told that an unbaptised child will not be welcomed into heaven. Still. He must go on. “
One of Many
This is but one of many scenarios, but it is also a common one. It is shared not to negate the experiences of women, for that is fully acknowledged. This article is offered in response to the many women who have expressed frustration, hurt, anger, dismay and pain over what they experience to be the difficulty of men to express and be in touch with their feelings.
Men have been for generations taught not to feel. The military teaches men not to feel, infant mortality teaches men not to feel, responsibility for work and income teaches men not to feel. As most of us know how we’ve coped in emergencies through suppressing our feelings until it feels safe and appropriate, imagine now if men have had to do this for countless generations. The physical strength of men has been to their emotional disadvantage. In emergencies the strong are needed to lift, carry, fight and defend.
All Losses Are Equal
Honouring the losses of previous generations and seeing the fathers and grandfathers in your partner, and having compassion for their experiences goes a long way to assisting this doorway to greater expression of feeling to open. It is not to say that women are not affected by all of what has been stated here – this article simply points out the differing circumstances and offers perhaps a fresh and new perspective on the story of men and what they’ve inherited from their forefathers.
Mourning the Losses
A wonderful way to start healing the trauma inherited through the male line is to fully meet the story as it is. To look at it face on. Most of the men sent off to war were not much more than a boy – barely adults, and sometimes not even. You can choose to be angry about war, however, that would be a distraction, it is much more fruitful to look at what is rather than to have a strangle hold on what ‘should never have happened’ or ‘whose fault’ it is. It is what it is.
When we meet fully the ugliness of war and the bare truth of our father’s, grand-father’s and great-grandfather’s stories – be those stories of war, slaver, genocide, pogroms, Spanish flu or starvation – we can begin to feel the honour of what they did to survive, to cope and later to flourish. As we look at the losses of war and the losses of their own children, we can bow with respect not only to them, but also to the legacy that has been inherited by our fathers, husbands, brothers and male friends.
In today’s world many men are being asked to be more in touch with their feelings whilst at the same time, be a success in the world. My suggestion is that some men need more time to heal the influences of past generations and need women to see their challenges with expressing deeper feelings with a broader, deeper and more compassionate view.
Just as with victims and perpetrators, it is only when the losses and challenges of men and women are seen as equal can the rifts between the genders be healed. No one is to blame.
In my experience, men feel very deeply indeed. Once we understand the difference between emotions and feelings, it is clear to see that men feel very deeply. Emotions are an outward movement and feelings are an inward movement. Most men simply need to be helped to find the doorway to the feelings that are already present.
* Individuals tend to live their lives primarily from either their emotional centre, or their intellectual centre. Describing most men as living primarily from their intellectual centre does not imply that men are more intelligent.
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