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Real Men Cry

Crying is caring.

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Source: pixabay free image

When my male clients initially come in to see me they often share painful aspects of their childhood yet look like disembodied souls as there's so much incongruity between their stories and their affect.

When I confront them on this, they shrug their shoulders saying that’s just how they were raised. It's heart-wrenching to see so many men tell me they feel weak, shameful, and inadequate for having feelings of sadness, pain, and disappointment. All their lives they were told, “Real men don’t cry,” yet studies show how crying is a way for the body to release toxins from the body.

From a physiological perspective, when humans get stressed there is an increase in adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Over time as this builds it leads to more stress that demands to be released.

Dr. Jodi DeLuca, a neuropsychologist at Tampa General Hospital in Florida put simply says, ''When you cry, it's a signal you need to address something." It either comes out in its healthy form as tears or if suppressed can cause a number of physical symptoms to arise known clinically as Somatoform disorders (i.e. psychological/relational issues that manifest themselves as physical symptoms). Somatoform disorders are especially prevalent in ethnic cultures like traditional Asian families where stoicism is honored.

The symptoms can involve several different organs yet remain perplexing to clients as there’s no physical causation.

The patient may report a combination of:

  • Acute pain
  • Muscle aches/soreness
  • Neurological problems
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Sexual symptoms/issues

In addition, the suppressing of emotions can also lead to a host of addictions and mental health issues such as:

It’s not until clients I see develop enough trust to know they will not be judged or shamed that they then become more authentic with their feelings. Once these feelings are accessed and processed do they garner more insight which allows them to make sense of their past behaviors and physical issues that for years remained a mystery.

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