4 Things You Don’t Know About Irritable Male Syndrome That Could Save Your Relationship

Chapter 3 from the book, Mr. Mean: Saving Yourself and Rescuing Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome By Jed Diamond, Ph.D. Contact: Jed@MenAlive.com Other chapters on Scribd: Chapter 1: My Man Has Changed from Mr. Nice to Mr. Mean: What is Going on? http://www.scribd.com/doc/19471429/Mr-Mean-Save-YourselfRescue-Your-Relationship Chapter 2: 5 Little Known Secrets for Saving Yourself From an Abusive Relationship http://www.scribd.com/doc/20167146/5-Little-Known-Secrets-forSaving-Yourself-From-an-Abusive-Relationship www.MenAlive.com

Dear Dr. Diamond, My fiancé recently broke off our engagement, of just short of a year, because she said I had changed. She stated that no matter what she said I would "bite her head off", that I was no longer

showing her affection, that she felt she had to "walk on eggshells" around me, and that I became very distant and unemotional. A random stranger overheard me talking to one of my friends about my situation and mentioned Irritable Male Syndrome, so I went to the bookstore and decided to purchase the book. I had never heard of IMS, but now a lot of what’s been going on with me makes sense. I feel real hope now that I can repair the damage to our relationship. Thank you. Josh.

The Irritable Male Syndrome Story In order to get a clear understanding of IMS it helps to know the story. When writing my book, Male Menopause, I discovered how significant hormonal changes were in the lives of these men. Though mid-life men are still reluctant to recognize how much of their lives are influenced by hormonal shifts, women immediately “got it.” “I knew there was something ‘hormonal’ about his behavior,” many women told me in talking about their mates. Now, a lot of his behavior makes sense.” Another thing that became evident was how similar mid-life male changes were to the changes that young men go through between 15

and 25 as they make the transition from childhood to adulthood. Both groups of males are experiencing significant hormonal changes. Both groups went through marked emotional ups and downs. Both were sorting out and dealing with developing a new identity. And both were dealing with significant sexual changes. I saw much stress these men were under, much of it beyond and outside their awareness. They expressed their stress in different ways. Some drank, others became depressed. Some became aggressive, others withdrew and hid. Some had heart attacks, others had nervous breakdowns. I found that men going through andropause were expressing a constellation of feelings and behaviors that seemed to express different aspects and intensities of “irritability.” These included such things as: hypersensitivity, impatience, anger, blame, defensiveness, arguing, sullenness, silence, and withdrawal. Further these men went from being nice and considerate to being mean and destructive seemingly overnight. They could also go back and forth between acting loving and hateful time and time again. In early 2002, a colleague sent me a copy of an article by Dr. Gerald A. Lincoln, a researcher in Edinburgh, Scotland. He titled the

paper, the irritable male syndrome, and described what he observed in the animals following the withdrawal of testosterone. He found that when the animals had low testosterone, they became irritable and tried to bite researchers and other animals. After working with male rams and reindeer, he speculated that “irritable male syndrome” may be a problem for all male mammals and wondered whether it might hold true for human beings as well as other animals. Based on my research on male menopause, I thought humans were more complex than other mammals, but we might suffer from the same syndrome. I decided I needed to talk to Dr. Lincoln directly and review his research. My wife, Carlin, and I arranged the trip to Edinburgh and met Dr. Lincoln and his family. We visited his research facility, and watched the animals become edgy, illtempered, and irritable when their testosterone was lowered. I came away convinced that irritable male syndrome was real and needed to be studied in humans. What Exactly Is Irritable Male Syndrome? After studying IMS for nearly 10 year now, I have a pretty clear picture of what we are dealing with. Here’s how I define Irritable Male Syndrome:

A state of hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration, and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and loss of male identity. The medical community is notoriously slow in recognizing new problems. A few pioneering practitioners, however, are beginning to understand IMS. “IMS is incredibly common—up to 30 percent of men experience it,” says Chrisopher Steidle, M.D., clinical associate professor of urology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. “This is a male version of PMS, or premenstrual syndrome.” In this chapter we’ll examine the core symptoms of IMS. In the next chapter we’ll look at the four key causes of IMS, including biochemical changes in brain chemistry, hormonal fluctuations, and loss of male identity. Working with males (and those who live with them) that are experiencing IMS, I have found there are four core symptoms that underlie many others. The first is hypersensitivity. The women who live these men say things like the following: • I feel like I have to walk on egg-shells when I’m around him.

I never know when I’m going to say something that will set him off.

• He’s like time bomb ready to explode but I never know when. • Nothing I do pleases him. • Whenever I try and do nice things, he pushes me away. • He’ll change in an eye-blink. One minute he’s warm and friendly. The next he’s cold and mean. The men don’t often recognize their own hypersensitivity. Rather their perception is that they are fine but everyone else is going out of their way to irritate them. The guys say things like: • Quit bothering me. • Leave me alone. • No, nothing’s wrong. I’m fine.

The kids always….Fill in the blank. It’s usually something negative.

You never…. Fill in the blank, i.e. want sex, do what I want to do, do something with your life, think before you open your mouth, do things the right way.

You damn….Fill in the blank….fool, bitch, etc. As IMS progresses the words get more hurtful.

• They don’t say anything. They increasingly withdraw into a numbing silence. One concept I have found helpful is the notion that many of us are “emotionally sunburned,” but others don’t know it. We might think of a man who is extremely sunburned and gets a loving hug from his wife. He cries out in anger and pain. He assumes she knows he’s sunburned so if she “grabs” him she must be trying to hurt him. She has no idea he is sunburned and can’t understand why he reacts angrily to her loving touch. You can see how this can lead a couple down a road of escalating confusion. The second core emotion is anxiety. Anxiety is a state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation. IMS men live in constant worry and fear. There are many real threats that they are dealing with in their lives—sexual changes, job insecurities, relationship problems. There are also many uncertainties that lead men to ruminate and fantasize about future problems.

The third core emotion is frustration. IMS men feel blocked in attaining what they want and need in life. They often don’t even know what they need. When they do know, they often feel there’s no way they can get it. They often feel defeated in the things they try and do to improve their lives. The men feel frustrated in their relationships with family, friends, and on the job. The world is changing and they don’t know where, how, or if they fit in. Author Susan Faludi captures this frustration in her book Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man. The frustration is expressed in the question that is at the center of her study of American males. “If, as men are so often told, they are the dominant sex, why do so many of them feel dominated, done in by the world?” The frustration, that is often hidden and unrecognized, is a key element of IMS. The forth core emotion is anger. Anger can be simply defined as a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility. Yet anger is a complex emotion. Outwardly expressed it can lead to aggression and violence. When it is turned inward it can lead to depression and suicide. Anger can be direct and obvious or it

can be subtle and covert. Anger can be loud or quiet. It can be expressed as hateful words, hurtful actions, or in stony silence. For many men, anger is the only emotion they have learned to express. Growing up male we are taught to avoid anything that is seen as the least bit feminine. We are taught that men “do” while women “feel.” As a result men are taught to keep all emotions under wrap. We cannot show we are hurt, afraid, worried, or panicked. The only feeling that is sometimes allowed many men is anger. When men begin going through IMS, it is often anger that is the primary emotion. If these symptoms are not addressed adequately they tend to get worse. Over a period of weeks, months, and years, the pressure builds up. Often it explodes, seemingly, out of the blue. One day he seems fine. The next, he’s saying he’s had enough and he wants to leave. Most women I’ve talked with say they had a feeling that something wasn’t right, but didn’t have the understanding and the courage to deal with it directly. Don’t let this happen to you. Many women suffer indirectly from IMS as they see the man they love becoming increasingly unhappy, angry, and withdrawn. They also suffer directly as they increasingly become the target of his

angry and erratic moods. The relationship that they have lovingly built through the years begins to crumble. This is more than painful. It is a tragedy. Other chapters on Scribd can be found as follows: Chapter 1: My Man Has Changed from Mr. Nice to Mr. Mean: What is Going on? http://www.scribd.com/doc/19471429/Mr-Mean-Save-YourselfRescue-Your-Relationship Chapter 2: 5 Little Known Secrets for Saving Yourself and Rescuing Yourself from an Abusive Relationship http://www.scribd.com/doc/20167146/5-Little-Known-Secrets-forSaving-Yourself-From-an-Abusive-Relationship Contact: Jed@MenAlive.com www.MenAlive.com

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