Why do men shoot? It’s not what you think.

Men are virtually always the shooters in the murderous rampages we see every couple months on our TV sets. In fact, to date, seventy out of seventy-one shooters have been men since 1982. The national conversation focuses on gun control and mental illness. But tens of millions of women are diagnosed with mental illness and a good many of them like guns, and in the last thirty years only one has become a shooter.

Why do men shoot? It’s easy to assume Andrew Engeldinger, Wade Michael Page, Ian Stawicki, One L. Goh, Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Jeong Soo Paek are mentally ill or just tough guys, men who’ve been violent all the lives and for whom mass shootings are the culmination.

Most shooters are weak men

In fact, most shooters have poor self-concepts, few friends, and lousy (if any) relationships with women. They act out their unresolved feelings of hurt and fear rather than manage their feelings.

Even more, these men live in a pervasive sense of shame. Some have had traumatic childhoods, but the vast majority have been bullied and ridiculed by other men. They are guys who have not been able to live up to the cult of tough masculinity in which we live: they feel inadequate, that there’s something wrong with them, that they’re not man enough. Isolated and angry, they concoct plots to get even with the world, to show the world that they are competent, powerful, invulnerable, strong men.

At the Institute for the Prevention and Treatment of Mascupathy LPC, we diagnose these men as Mascupathic. After many years of working with thousands of men, we have concluded that most men harbor a pathology of masculinity, an exaggeration of inherent masculine qualities and reduction of natural feminine traits that results in a distortion of masculinity. While genetics plays a part, we believe that male socialization is the culprit. Most men are able to cope with their socialization well enough that they stay within the norms of society. But many act out. In the United States, 161 men under the age of 45 die violent deaths every day. Men physically abuse one out of every four women in America.

Men are born for intimacy

Boys love to climb into their dads’ laps and cling to their moms’ legs. They tussle affectionately with their siblings and in their play with other boys. Men are also made for sensitivity. Boys cry when they touch a plate that’s still hot from the microwave or wake up from a scary dream. In fact, some research suggests at an early age boys are more emotional than girls. Boys love to talk about the most intimate matters – their pleasure of a good bowel movement, grandpa’s smelly breath, their fear of the thorny bush in the backyard that’s full of spiders and snakes.

By the time they’re four or five, at untold personal expense to themselves – and years later to women and their own children – boys have been kicked off their dads’ laps, taught to fight rather than play. Their connective capacity – much of their marvelous openness, affection, and excitement – has been painfully and relentlessly cut away from them with surgical precision.

Male socialization is the invasive force

Male socialization is the invasive force that transforms playful boys into tough guys and distant partners. It’s an assault that skews a more balanced inherent masculinity and severely restricts men’s range of emotionality and intimacy.

The psychological history of every man is a chronicle of his losing struggle with socialization, but most men manage their masculinity well enough so they don’t act out.

Mascupathy (MPD) is a mental health disorder, a pathology of masculinity, stemming from a socialized exaggeration of genetic masculine traits—aggression and invulnerability—and a reduction of inherent feminine characteristics—openness and sensitivity. The symptomology—inadequate self-awareness and governance, emotional numbness and instability as well as relational ineptness, instability and withdrawal—results in deficient intimate partnerships and parenting, excessive competition and one-upmanship, and violence against women and others.

The severity of Mascupathy varies. Some men have found a balanced humanity, and others become shooters. Virtually every man suffers to one degree or another, and Mascupathy is a plague on all our houses.

After each shooting, our national conversation has focused on gun control and the availability of mental health services. Now, finally, the media finally beginning to explore manhood and masculinity for the primary problem it is.

In our work, we wish neither to denigrate nor excuse men. We want society in general and men in particular to see themselves clearly, to recognize that their socialization betrays their good nature, and that they can reclaim their natural humanity, becoming compassionate and accountable. We want men to enter into treatment in which they can learn to govern their psyches, find the healing nature of self-disclosure, and enter into healthy relationships. When men learn to talk about their internal mayhem, they will be less apt to create mayhem in our streets, schools and theaters. In a word, they don’t have to shoot to feel OK.

One Response to “Why do men shoot? It’s not what you think.”

  1. larry May 19, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    Good job Charlie.

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