1st Edition

Masculinity and Its Discontents The Male Psyche and the Inherent Tensions of Maturing Manhood

By Michael J. Diamond Copyright 2021
    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    Offering a uniquely psychoanalytic developmental perspective on male gender identity and the sense of maleness, this book provides an in-depth analysis of the development of masculinity in childhood and its continued evolution throughout a man’s life.

    Drawing on classical Freudian theory, as well as on more contemporary psychoanalytic theories, this book explores early infancy and child development, preoedipal factors and the oedipal complex, the influence of parenting and the unconscious transmission of gendered factors both by mothers and both biological and symbolic fathers, the male ego ideal, social, cultural, and biological influences, the role of inherent psychic bi-genderality in the context of gender binaries, and the inherent gendered tensions and challenges experienced as an individual progresses into adult and later life. This book is original in its characterization of the male developmental trajectory as underpinned by psychoanalytic principles pertaining to conflict and inherent tensions that continue throughout the life cycle and strongly impact other areas of life. Deeply rooted in the unconscious, a man’s multiply determined sense of masculinity requires deconstructing the mother, the feminine, and the other in the male psyche. As the text illustrates via clinical vignettes, an awareness and an understanding of these areas can improve the clinical work of psychoanalysts working with men who struggle with the intrinsic conflicts in their sense of maleness.

    This book will be of great clinical value to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and other mental health practitioners, and will stimulate the thinking of scholars in such areas as gender theory, psychodynamic and sociocultural aspects of gender roles, and the changing social definition of masculinity.

    1.  The Roots of Male Gender Identity: An Introductory Overview  2.  An Integrative Perspective on "Masculine" Gender and Bigenderality  3. The Shaping of Masculinity in Early Childhood  4. The Impact of Actual and Symbolic Fathering on Masculinity  5.  The Impact Of Mother and Mother-With-Father Together  6. Social, Cultural, and Biological Influences on the Concept of Masculinity and Gender: Constructing the Male Ego Ideal  7. Maturing Masculinity, Receptivity, and Gender Fluidity: Its Trajectory through Midlife Transitions and Later Life Changes  8. Gender and Masculinity in Analytic Practice, and Concluding Thoughts


    Michael J. Diamond is a Training and Supervising Analyst, Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies. He has authored over ninety articles and chapters as well as three books, including My Father Before Me: How Fathers and Sons Influence Each Other Throughout Their Lives and The Second Century of Psychoanalysis: Evolving Perspectives on Therapeutic Action (with C. Christian). He is in private practice in Los Angeles.

    'A leading psychoanalytic clinician scholar in gender studies, Michael J. Diamond excitingly offers this comprehensive new work on maleness. With impressive skill and deeply compassionate knowledge, he creates a richly textured sense of men’s gendered internal aspirations and lived intentions as these inhabit their bodies and animate their peopled worlds. He draws on modern Freudian theory and other psychoanalytic approaches to reveal the complex developmental struggle that men must undergo to build their identities and roles. This is a must-read, must-teach book for all psychoanalytic psychotherapists and advanced readers curious about how a man becomes known to himself.' 

    Rosemary H. Balsam, F.R.C.Psych, M.R.C.P., Yale Medical School, Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis; author of Women’s Bodies in Psychoanalysis (2012) and is a 2018 recipient of the Sigourney Award.

    'By way of this book’s provocative title, Michael J. Diamond elegantly links the covert frailties of "masculinity" to the covert frailties of its encircling "civilization." Diamond more than delivers on the title’s promise. His notion of primordial vulnerability illuminates an actual bedrock, a human one, and offers a much-needed antidote to Freud’s restrictive notion that, for men, castration anxiety can always claim the last word. Employing a wide theoretical range, Diamond’s argument reaches back more than a century and, ever alert to his contemporary surround, he points us forward toward a time when we might all think more clearly and work more effectively on the actual sources of our shared discontents.'

    Donald B. Moss, M.D., is the author of Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man (2012) and Hating in the First Person Plural (2003). He is also Chair of the American Psychoanalytic Association’s Program Committee.

    'In this insightful book, Michael J. Diamond brings together decades of his impressive psychoanalytic scholarship on male identity formation pressured by cultural ideals of manhood. Diamond underscores the tenuous nature of masculinity, detailing the vulnerabilities inherent in male development within familial and societal contexts. Each chapter’s extended clinical material illustrates much clinical sensitivity and wisdom from a seasoned analyst. His approach is poignant and humble; this is an attuned guide for clinicians wanting to understand more deeply their work with men.'

    Dianne Elise, Ph.D., is the author of Creativity and the Erotic Dimensions of the Analytic Field (2019).

    'Michael J. Diamond’s steadfast devotion to capturing and narrating the lives of boys and men is unparalleled in psychoanalysis. His decades-long effort culminates in Masculinity and Its Discontents, in which he expands upon his long-held interest in fathers and sons, elaborates on boys’ relationships with their mothers, and contemplates sociocultural influences on gender. Of particular interest to many readers will be his extended case studies, which Diamond employs to bring his theorizing to life.'

    Ken Corbett, Ph.D., author of Masculinities (2009) and A Murder Over a Girl: Justice, Gender, Junior High (2016).

    'Michael J. Diamond offers us an exceptionally deep and thought-provoking journey into the fluid interiority of fully realized manhood. In recent times, feminism and female development have received powerful attention, whereas masculinity and its discontents, its developmental trajectory and bigenderality, have never been so carefully considered. Diamond integrates personal experience, psychoanalytic practice, social science training, and immense intellectual and cultural breadth to create a treatise on male development that will stand as a classic. The structure of the book is creative and informative. Each chapter begins with a summary and ends with rich clinical material. This is an inspiring addition to the study of gender.'

    Harriet L. Wolfe, M.D., is president-elect of the International Psychoanalytical Association and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California San Francisco.

    'Masculinity and Its Discontents: The Male Psyche and the Inherent Tension of Maturing Manhood, by Michael J. Diamond, is a landmark in psychoanalytic thinking and in our literature given its clear, insightful, theoretically and clinically based study of masculinity and the development of male gender identity. This exceptional book is not only essential for all clinical analysts---both experienced ones and those at the beginning of their careers---as a way to better understand patients, but it also comes at a particular sociocultural moment in which we need to face up to many misunderstandings and negative views about what mature manhood means. I strongly recommend it to analysts and to other readers who already know that psychoanalysis is helpful in understanding human and gender development, but who stand to learn a great deal more from this informative book.'

    Cláudio Laks Eizirik, M.D., Ph.D., is a training and supervising analyst, Porto Alegre Psychoanalytic Society (Brazil); professor emeritus of Psychiatry, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul; and former president of the International Psychoanalytical Association.

    'How to be a man today? How to be a father? How do parents shape the gender identity of their sons? What conflicts influence lifelong male development in times of fluid gender identities? Based on his considerable clinical experience and careful investigations in the psychoanalysis of men and their psychosexual development, internationally renowned expert Michael J. Diamond addresses these questions. A unique feature of the book is Diamond’s impressively comprehensible presentation of the concept of psychic bigenderality to refer to a permanent tension between the inner masculine and feminine.'

    Professor Martin Teising is former President of the International Psychoanalytic University in Berlin and is the author of numerous books and articles on masculinity and male development.

    'Masculinity and Its Discontents: The Male Psyche and the Inherent Tensions of Maturing Manhood represents a long overdue critique and revision of our psychoanalytic understanding of male identity and development. In offering a more complex theory of masculinity that rejects outdated binary reasoning to view male identity as an ongoing dynamic process that requires incorporating rather than rejecting the feminine, Michael J. Diamond draws on multiple disciplines, including contemporary psychoanalysis, neuroscience, gender and attachment theory, and cross-cultural studies. Given its theoretical richness supported by experience-near clinical material, I have no doubt that this book will become required reading for clinicians, students, and academics across disciplines.' 

    Christopher Christian is editor-in-chief of Psychoanalytic Psychology; a training and supervising analyst and past dean of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research; and the co-editor of Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Conflict (2017, with Morris Eagle and David Wolitzky) and Psychoanalysis in the Barrios: Race, Class, and the Unconscious (2018, with Patricia Gherovici).

    'Diamond does a service by challenging his readers to think deeply about what it means to be "male", and what may impede fathers and sons, brothers and male friends, from living as emotionally receptive and responsive people along healthy developmental trajectories. As with people of all gendered configurations, we have a collective stake in how these maturational processes unfold.' 

    Matthew Steinfeld is a psychoanalytic educator and clinician. To read this review in full, please see the following: Steinfeld, M. (2023) Masculinity and its Discontents: The Male Psyche and the Inherent Tensions of Maturing Manhood, by Michael J. Diamond, London and New York, Routledge, 2021, 138 pp, $27.96, ISBN: 9780367724047. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 104:801-803.