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Anxiety Looks Different in Men (wsj.com)
395 points by andygcook 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 220 comments

This is a great article. For years I didn't know how to handle anxiety so I handled it "like a man" which lead to a pretty decent drinking habit.

Now that I've stopped drinking and being open about what's going on with me, my anxiety looks like traditional anxiety which was easy for my gp to help diagnose.

Taking the leap to be open and get help was the best thing to happen to me in years.

For this audience, I would add that anxiety is in some sense often a career positive. During the years I spent as a sysadmin, the continuous feeling that something was about to gowrong and I really needed to prepare for it was useful to my employers. Even if it was bad for me, my relationships, and my physical health.

The worst thing about this is that realizing it isn't necessarily the first step to improving your condition. On the contrary, it can lead to cultivating your own anxiety, because it gives you opportunities you wouldn't get with a more healthy work life...

Same job, same problem. The solution was to understand that I am not really helping anyone. I'm just hiding problems and helping incompetents make money and stay in the market when they deserve to fail.

So my new approach: fix it and make it public once, let it fail afterwards if nobody cares.

I often times think my anxiety is what my employers value the most in me and it drives me mad :)

Good ol' capitalism, extracting value from your mental health disorders.

I suffered with it from like 19 (came out of nowhere) til my late 20s when I started talking about it openly with friends, family, other people in general and realized wait im not alone were all nuts yet normal.

Wish I talked about way earlier and came to that realization.

I read the article and noticed something I have been doing recently. I have been drinking heavily. I say I work from home and then I drink. I have been drinking in the night when my wife goes to bed. I have had two anxiety attacks before. I was on medication for several months. I know meditation helps but don’t have time to practice it with all the commute and long work days. I don’t know what to do.

I don't often post here these days but this really stuck out to me and I'm kind of surprised it hasn't yielded any responses. Based on this description, you need to get some help my friend. Depending on your relationship, a reasonable first step may be to talk to your wife about this. If you don't know what to tell her exactly, point her to this comment. There are professionals and there's no shame in utilizing them to become the best version of yourself. Good luck :)

Thank you much for your thoughtful suggestion. I have to get a lot of things in order.

I also wanted to comment here. Cheering you on. Working with a professional has been the biggest relief for me. It's absolutely worth the money if you can afford it (and you can always ask if therapists could offer "sliding scale" meaning they charge less for folks that can't afford the full price). I went on Psychology Today's website and used their listing of therapists. It was scary emailing the first one but I did it and I showed up to the appointment. Now years later I am no longer drinking and have all sorts of tools for my anxiety. You can do this.

If I may be so bold as to inquire, what was your path to stop drinking? Do you find you replaced it with another coping mechanism?

Not OP, but I had a similar experience. Getting to the root of things with CBT caused me to completely change my relationship with alcohol. At this point, heavy drinking has become a clear path to increasing my anxiety, and it’s easy to abstain.

Not OP, and kind of cliché (with the common corollaly to seek professional advice instead of internet wisdom), but:

excercise - and for me it was more anxiety+smoking but less anxiety led to less drinking too(which I did not recognize as a problem at the time)

I consciously used it as a replacement: when I was stressed and need of a cigarette, I told myself that I actually feel the miss of a good run - and for me running really helped somewhat, so it was enough to start a positive feedback loop. It is also good that both drinking and smoking makes excercising harder, which I tried to (and many times could) use as a fact against them ("if i now drink i wont be able to wake up early enough to go for a run", "if i smoke it will much harder to breath")

And another internet wisdom cliché ;) regarding anxiety: stop drinking coffee (tea...)...

How did you practice CBT? Yourself? With a therapist? A workbook?

In my case, getting hired by one of the Big Four tech companies.

Always was a high performer, but didn't feel satisfied at other companies. I felt I was worth much more than what I was getting paid. I needed the validation and at least the perception of being with the best. I kept pushing my application since it felt daunting and I had failed Google once. I also made up excuses why a big tech company isn't worth it anyway, and that I shouldn't have to go through whiteboarding. But I'm much, much happier now. Glad I gave it a shot.

How did you overcome the 'I shouldn't have to go through whiteboarding' problem?

The riddles, and the whiteboards, are why I turn down all big 4 recruiter emails.

Power through it? You only have to do it once (or four times if you respond to all four), it takes one day and it's not that hard. There are way worse and fruitless ways to spend a day that we do routinely.

For a lot of skilled engineers with cushy jobs, not going for whiteboard is matter of principle.

I understand, but the question was on how to overcome the unwillingness. I don't see any other way to overcome it than 'just do it'. It is not a physical addiction or a condition and bears no ill effects other than lost time and maybe some pride?

What are the big 4 tech companies? I’ve heard that in accounting, but I don’t know which 4 they would be in tech.

There's actually 5: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft

I normally see FAANG for Facebook Apple Amazon Netflix and Google. Not sure how to work Microsoft in there - maybe MAFANG or FANMAG or some such.

Netflix is one side business for Amazon and they rely on AWS for hosting. Why put them in the group?

It was originally used as a label for high performing tech companies from an investor's perspective[0], and from there adopted by software engineers and other employees who work or aspire to work for those companies.


(F)acebook, (A)mazon, (N)etflix, (G)oogle.

Microsoft and Apple each have over twenty times more employees than Netflix. I've never understood why Netflix is included, in FAANG, etc.

FANG was coined to characterize a sliver of the stock market. It's all about the returns those stocks were producing over a period of time, and how they frequently traded together.

It has basically nothing to do with: revenues, profits, employees, products, technology.

It's at least 90% because it makes the acronym work.

A is not Amazon, it's Apple.

Amazon does not have the same technical hurdle as the others.


There are 2 As in FAANG.

Yup. You can't heal if you don't communicate what's going on in your mind.

> get help was the best thing to happen to me

What kind of help worked for you? Did you end up taking medication?

Anxiety is one of the emotions that I have to consciously think about how to express. I have to imagine what people look like in the movies when they're scared, and then I try to reproduce it. I can show many other emotions naturally, without thinking about it: happiness, anger, disgust. But fear I have to consciously simulate. (I suppose if I was in a bus going off the edge of a cliff or someone stuck a gun in my face, my repressive instincts would be overcome and I'd look terrified, but in normal situations it doesn't come out.) I think I've internalized the ability to hide it, to camouflage it as annoyance or boredom, so thoroughly that I have to layer a bad acting job over my lockdown of the natural expression.

I didn't know this until I got in group therapy and realized that many of the other people in my group (the women, in fact) didn't register the fact that I was feeling a lot of anxiety, even though I talked about all the time. When I talked about it, they didn't see any reflection of it in my face or body language, so what I said didn't register. I could say that I was feeling anxious, I could tell them about situations where I was paralyzed with anxiety, and still the absence of the expression they expected outweighed what I was telling them. They even accused me of withholding and not being open about my feelings until I learned how to act it out for them. I had to fake it to be accepted as authentic; my words were not enough.

This knowledge has proved to be very important to me. I realized that in many situations where I have mentioned my fear of something without expressing it physically, people have assumed I was lying. For example, when I talk about my fear of the financial consequences of a purchase, if I don't show fear, my wife may assume my fear is not real, and I'm making up an excuse because I want to spend the money on something else. Also, in situations where everybody else is feeling and expressing fear, if I don't consciously produce an expression of fear, I will come off as apathetic and detached.

It's very, very frustrating. From a young age we learn we are punished for showing fear, conditioned to hide it, and then later we realize there are situations where we are punished for our inability to show it.

This really resonates with me. I'm often frustrated with a feeling that I'm saying things to people and yet still not feeling heard. This speaks a lot to what might be helpful.

I'm sure you've worked plenty of time thinking about this already so I feel dumb trying to supplement that at all, but I'd assume you're probably repressing some level of emotion just because the physical expression of anxiety isn't so much a learned behavior coming from your prefrontal cortex but more like a low level hind brain thing you have just by being human. Between survival instincts and social instincts we have very physically based "emotions" and playing the odds here, I'd wager you and others that comment, having similar experiences, that you developed this coping mechanism at a young age. Apologies if I'm reading too much into a simple comment saying you're misunderstood at times.

I feel terrified, my body temperature goes up, I often sweat, and I have an overwhelming urge to censor my speech which tends to make me censor my thoughts as well. It's an exhausting emotional experience, and it feels and behaves just like fear, not like any other emotion, except when there's anger mixed in. The only difference is, I'm maintaining enough control of my face and voice and body to fool a lot of people. Probably not everyone.

I appreciated reading this as it shines a lot of light on how my partner experiences his anxiety. Thank you.

I understand this is not the point of your story, but I hope part of the lesson here is just how fallible body language and facial expression can be. I'll bet a lot of these people believed they were good at empathizing, when in fact they were only good at empathizing with similar experiences or body language expressions.

I have the opposite problem: I don't know what anxiety is. Supposedly it's an emotion people have (and it's certainly possible I feel it too,) but I have no way to identify my feelings as anxiety because nobody has ever expressed the meaning of that term in a way the conforms to any feeling I have ever had.

I originally glossed over your comment pretty quickly, but the more I think about it, the more I realize this is true in practice for me as well. I know what it feels like to feel joy or sadness, but for me anxiety is more often a collection of things I observe about myself than something I feel. This is partly because my anxiety is so often coupled with depression, and partly because anxiety pushes your brain into a fight/freeze/flee trichotomy, and the "freeze" and "flee" responses can feel pretty emotionally blank when the fear is distant or ill-defined (like a deadline or social rejection as opposed to a grizzly bear.)

Again depending on the fight/freeze/flee response, my anxiety can manifest as stiffness in my body, requiring special concentration to force myself to do normal things, or it can manifest as a jitteriness, like when you drive a car with a lot more power than you're used to and every time you touch the accelerator it surges forward in an alarming way. It can be accompanied by elevated body temperature, even sweating.

The way I differentiate the paralyzing kind of anxiety from depression is that depression paralyzes with lack of energy and an inability to believe that anything you do will come out well. Anxiety paralyzes with stiffness and a blank mind that is too twitchy to make plans.

Paralysis is the flight/freeze response to anxiety, but it also has a fight response, where I single-mindedly execute the next thing to do. I can get a lot of things done this way, and sometimes this is the only thing that snaps me out of procrastination, but sometimes the "clear next step" I'm unthinkingly executing is not the right thing. And when it becomes unclear what the next thing is, I'm back to being paralyzed.

Likewise, in social situations, anxiety can make me talk a lot (for me) and become much more open and engaging, and it can be a great thing to get me over the hump to knowing someone well, but more often it just makes my mind blank and makes me so slow to say the things I want to say that the moment passes. From the point of view of my social anxiety, I guess that's a win, preventing me from engaging more than superficially.

One of the few times in my life where I have palpable anxiety is when I go for on-site interviews. Most other things I'm a cool cucumber. I think there is something to having feelings but not recognizing what they are, but there is also the other side which is people are different and different people feel things more keenly than others.

Yea. There a lot of flavors to anxiety, and the word itself is almost too generic to be meaningful. I experience it as a kind of "wiredness" or "on edge" feeling. The somatic experience tends to precede the mental one too. So, I'm with you, I think people tend to oversimplify "anxiety" and that it's actually a complex of zillions of little micro-disorders that share some rough features.

What I’ve heard from my therapist is that anxiety is often a cloud that covers the real emotion underneath. I experience anxiety when I’m really upset because I don’t know how to express anger. But sometimes it is sadness or fear. Anxiety is basically an evolutionary adaptation — we no longer are being hunted or having to hunt for survival, but our minds still think danger is present.

A thing I love about my therapist is, that I tell my anxiety stories exactly like you, without much emotion and pretty clear and to the point. Still, in that moment, I experienced heavy levels of anxiety, but I can't just reproduce that at a later time (that sounds odd to me anyway). But he takes my word for it and works through it with me. Never in my therapy did he not believe me, just because I didn't tell it with a terrified look in my face.

Yeah, that's the great thing about group therapy. It's designed to work through interpersonal things that come up with regular people who have no training and are just as concerned with their own problems as you are with yours. This was something that never came up in ten years of individual therapy. I'm not sure if my individual therapist was aware that it could be a problem, but she was the one who suggested I do group therapy, so maybe she was. I should ask her.

One wonders if regular meetings with friends over coffee wouldn't be cheaper.

In my experience, they can sometime help and sometimes they can't. If they understand your issue, it can be easier and quicker to talk through your issues with a friend. Deep, buried anxiety issues are not understood by people that don't experience them. I, a completely healthy young man, constantly worrying about my heart, was met first with concern, then with dismissal as my issues didn't disappear after a week or so. You can become very annoying to friends. People who understand might be better. In my opinion, a therapist is the best, everything is inferior to that.. But that's just what worked for me.

It would be cheaper, but you'd lose your friends, unless they understand why you're talking about the same miserable repetitive shit every week, intentionally working through the worst of it, often resulting in everybody walking away feeling exhausted and dragged through a sewer, which you might inexplicably count as a success. Nobody will tolerate this unless they are really sold on the value of the process, or are miserable enough that they're willing to try anyway.

Seriously, it's so, so different, and most people in group therapy are having difficulty maintaining social connections already, because sharing emotionally icky stuff is a really hard thing to get right. Some people aren't good at recognizing boundaries and get ostracized because they overshare. Other people undershare because they aren't sure where the boundaries are or don't have the sophistication to share within boundaries without accidentally crossing the line. How to talk about your issues with various people (coworkers, family, friends) is a common frustration that gets talked about in group. No matter how progressive your social network is about whatever issue you have, people still conform to the law that if you make them feel good, you will see more of them, and if you make them feel bad, you will see less of them.

For example, one woman in my group was left by her husband after she discovered he was cheating with a woman twenty years younger than her. He had told this woman he was divorced and fathered a child with her. What her husband became widely known, and the women in her social group were, theoretically and vocally, supportive of a woman in her situation. But her social opportunities dried up overnight. Nobody was comfortable with the fact that she was miserable, that she couldn't afford to go to fancy brunches with them, that she was now selling her house and taking classes in the afternoon to get a nursing certification while they were sipping chardonnay and worry about hiring a new maid. None of them wanted to be face-to-face with a reminder that they were aging and their husbands might have a hot young sexual outlet somewhere, and that their lives could fall apart for the same reason. Some of her most loyal friends would meet her occasionally to express sympathy, but it just happened to always work out that they couldn't invite her to anything with other people. You'd be surprised how thin people's support is, and how strong their tendency is to assume that if being around you makes them feel bad, and other people don't make them feel that way, then you aren't doing what you need to do to deserve their support.

Even in intimate relationships, people don't always process why they're feeling the way they do. When someone says, "It's okay, whatever you're going through is okay, I just need to feel like you're here for me," they might not realize that they equate feeling like their partner is there for them with feeling safe and secure with their partner, and they don't feel safe and secure when their partner expresses anxiety.

I’ve thought about this a bit. I don’t have anger issues but I have anxiety issues and I spent decades not understanding that I experienced anxiety. In my experience, the culture tells men to exhibit strength and show no weakness. What counts as strength/weakness has changed over time and varies depending on your social groups — it’s not just the stuff associated with typically masculine values, but it also shows up in coding skills, or parenting skills, or how much work one takes on in those or other domains without complaint. In Behave by Robert Sapolsky, it’s repeatedly observed that testosterone doesn’t necessarily amplify aggression, but it does drive status-seeking/maintaining behavior, where status is some set of collective values where one member can have more or less of it than another and be seen as above or below the other. To me, this maps very well to generalized sense of strength or weakness.

So, in my opinion, men are both wired and trained by the culture to avoid admitting anxiety, to themselves and others, because it is a weakness.

Yup. I had a serious anxiety condition since childhood. But my parents were so disgusted by my fear that they made me dissociate from it. I went to doctors and said something is wrong, they asked, what? And I could not answer because I could no longer feel my fear. I went for 30 years without knowing my problem. Society has a serious attitude problem towards men and it is seriously damaging a huge number of people.

> Society has a serious attitude problem towards men and it is seriously damaging a huge number of people.

On average, society has pretty serious attitudes/biases regarding both sexes. Men are seen as innately value-less, disposable, dangerous, free, and powerful, all at the same time. If you're a man, society does not care whether you live or die. Women are seen as having massive inherent value, in need of protection, harmless, unfree, weak, and limited, also all at the same time. If you're a woman, every decision about your life is seen as significant, sometimes to the degree that they don't trust you to make those decisions yourself.

All of these suck.

> Society has a serious attitude problem towards men and it is seriously damaging a huge number of people.

As I understand it, this is what “toxic masculinity” is supposed to mean.

That just sounds like misandry.

Society has an attitude problem with women in some respects too, but people just call it misogyny, not "toxic femininity" or whatever.

Being consistent with terminology is sadly underrated.

Toxic femininity is actually a utilized term in the same spheres as toxic masculinity was coined (ie. Academia). Toxic masculinity is not against men but against a false societal pressure that men cannot show weakness, are justified in expressing their anger with violence, and that showing aggressive behavior instead of genuinely healthy human bonding is an acceptable and many substitute. It forces pressure on men to be unable to report when they’ve been sexually assaulted, when they’re anxious, in need of comfort, when they’re mentally ill, etc.

This is how I’ve understood the concept and it seems to fit with the claim that “I am a man and my parents emotionally abused me in response to my deep anxiety disorder in my childhood to force me to avoid treatment for decades”.

Toxic femininity is the same sort of societal expectations for women that are toxic. Women have more pressure to avoid being assertive even when their personalities are naturally more aggressive. That a mother is a mother first and a person second, such that everything she may do as a mother reflects on her worth as a human being.

EDIT: Regarding 'toxic femininity' I've been corrected that this isn't widespread used in this way. It's probably just used this way in my own academic circle and I had made an incorrect assumption. Thanks HN.

> Toxic masculinity is not against men but against a false societal pressure that men cannot show weakness

It seriously needs a name change, because the name implies that masculinity is toxic and that's how I've seen it interpreted.

That's how a lot of people interpret it. That people take that away may be deliberate, if you look at the roots of where the idea comes from, e.g. Andrea Dwokrin and S.C.U.M.

>if you look at the roots of where the idea comes from, e.g. Andrea Dwokrin and S.C.U.M.

Toxic masculinity as a concept was invented by the mythopoeic men's movement in the 1980s, and later taken up in mainstream feminist critique. It was not invented by feminists, and certainly not invented by radical feminists.

You would think that Academia would use the original two terms: gender role for positive or neutral gender expectations, and gender stereotypes for negative gender expectations and labeling.

What does Toxic femininity and Toxic masculinity contribute to meaningful communication that gender stereotypes does not?

No one would take offense if I said there is a problematic gender stereotype in regard to the 'ideal' body shape for women. In comparison, the claim that bulimia is caused by toxic femininity sounds both confrontational and victim blaming.

When choosing what terms to use does not "gender stereotype" sound much more inclusive, empathic and respectful than "toxic [X]"?

Your definition is not what the average person is going to think of when they see or hear the term "toxic masculinity".

Keep in mind that there are 3 types of people in this context:

1. People who know and understand the term as you described it.

2. People who "know" an "incorrect" (according to academia) definition of the term.

3. People who have never heard the term before, and draw their own definition based on where they saw/heard it and who it came from (often leads to #2).

The vast majority of people will fall into #2 and #3. I'd guess more than 99%.

I think that it's generally harmful and damaging for you to cite the original academic definition, because that just lends weight to the colloquial definition/understanding of the term as being valid.

The term has been hijacked. If you care about the original definition, you need some new words.

People aren't going to remember the difference between the "real" definition and the definition that most people use in common discourse. They'll just remember that "toxic masculinity is grounded in academia".

BTW as a side-note, I have never heard anyone say "toxic femininity" out loud, and I very rarely see it used online. People who recognize some form of "toxic masculinity" would either have no idea what you meant by "toxic femininity", or they would believe that it was associated with misogyny.

"Your definition is not what the average person is going to think of when they see or hear the term "toxic masculinity"."

I admitedly think I'm pretty average and I've only seen toxic masculinity describing behavior that's clearly harmfully based on false notions of man's role in society such as what is listed above. Due to this, I've never gained the conclusion that toxic masculinity is a term to describe men as toxic.

Could you explain what the logic is that toxic masculinity is a descriptor that men are toxic, given the above?

I don't think this conversation can proceed because I don't consider anyone who actively posts on HN as average.

You should be able to point to a group you do consider average and demonstrate some evidence for your assertion that way.

Pick any group of feminists and ask them to rate the offensiveness of the terms "toxic masculinity" and "toxic femininity".

I'm guessing you'd find a significant discrepancy in the direction of "toxic for thee but not for me"

I don’t think toxic femininity is used by academics:


(That’s a horrible website but I know a lot of feminists use it as gospel).

I’ve never heard it used with your definition. A quick google search also shows nothing.

“Toxic masculinity” is a divisive term that needs to go away.

>false societal pressure that men cannot show weakness

I believe this is a well-intended-but-misguided idea. Societal pressure for some trait can exist even when the trait is inherent. ie, there is societal pressure for friendship, fairness, and altruism. At least constrained to an in-group, (or previously, a kin-group) these traits are inherent human traits: they're not constructed by society. These inherent traits are enforced by society: we build rules, norms, and expectations around them, and we find ways to punish people who don't don't sufficiently uphold these values. By this definition there are societal constructs around altruism (eg, by what specific mechanisms is it upheld and expressed) which will vary by society, but the trait itself is near universal. I believe the same is true for male vulnerability: it's a universal trait, but because some people have managed to note and describe the local, societal mechanisms for expression of this trait, they have falsely concluded that the trait in its entirety is a social construction.

If you're a 12 year old boy, and you skin your knee and cry like a child, the adults around you (men and women) will look at you with disgust. Society didn't teach them this: it's as automatic as scrunching your face when you see dog feces on the ground. It's inherently disgusting. People are not generally built to respect or like weak men. Teaching young men to be vulnerable and emotional sets them up for failure, and weakens their position.

A 12 year old boy crying because he's injured doesn't strike me as inherently disgusting at all. 12 year olds are children that don't have the full capacity to make reasoned decisions around the society around them. If they force themselves not to cry it's because someone enforced the notion that they shouldn't respond to pain.

"Teaching young men to be vulnerable and emotional sets them up for failure, and weakens their position."

No, this is not what is being argued. What is being argued is that men are already vulnerable and emotional and then repressing this causes psychological damage, and teaching men to repress this also causes them psychological damage.

Indeed. If only "internalised misandry" and "misandry" were terms in common use, and the existence of which people didn't try to deny, we might able to see that sexism in society, no matter the source or target, is bad for, and has an impact on, everyone - and start addressing it honestly and without victim blaming.

Misandry is the state of being predisposed or prejudiced against men.

Toxic masculinity is stereotypical or reductive modes of action or thinking perceived by men as expected or required, which can be harmful to other men or other people.

They're not the same and it'd be not great to think that they are the same.

> Toxic masculinity is stereotypical or reductive modes of action or thinking perceived by men as expected or required, which can be harmful to other men or other people.

The part that no one wants to talk about is those behaviors are expected, required, and desired of men in some subcultures—-by both the men and the women of those subcultures. It isn’t purely some internal fault where some men misunderstand local norms but in many cases rather a collective problem of bad norms correctly perceived.

>> perceived by men as expected or required

This is I think the part that you're describing.

True. Though misandry also includes the devaluing of certain ways a masculine identifying person might express that masculinity, just as misogyny also includes ways the devaluing of certain ways a feminine identifying person might express their femininity. Misandry is not simply the wholesale hatred of men and/or masculinity, just as misogyny is not simply the wholesale hatred of women and/or femininity. Toxic masculinity, as a term, encompasses behaviours which are driven by misogyny, misandry, and the, in masculine people, internalised misandry resulting in the perpetuation of mysogyny and misandrist attitudes.

To see it as caused solely by internalised misandry is limiting. Such a view ignores the fact that toxic masculinity is a gestalt of behaviours driven by many different beliefs and attitudes - it ignores the fact that toxic masculinity is exhibited when mysogynistic or misandrisric behaviours are observed, and the observer is coerced by society to act in that manner thus perpetuating the cycle of sexism, internalised or not.

If we want to address the syndrome we call toxic masculinity, we'll need to dissect it thoroughly. We'll need to name and target each component. As it is composed of behaviours resulting from all forms of sexism, we must address all those named forms of sexism in society from all applicable sources. Everyone in society contributes to toxic masculinity - but in different ways. Clearly a multifaceted approach is required - one in which we must all participate actively.

Sexism is unacceptable and the mechanisms by which sexism perpetuates itself must be destroyed. Language is a very powerful weapon in that fight. We have a direct responsibility to use it effectively and with great precision. Let's carefully examine the words we use in this struggle to eliminate what we call toxic masculinity, because clearly there's some real confusion about what we're talking about here and some debate about who needs take action - because we all need to take action.

I'm not an expert, but I see misandry generally defined as "hatred of men", and not including devaluation in the way that the "incel" sorts of communities describe the attack on masculinity.

> To see it as caused solely by internalized misandry is limiting.

I don't think I've described toxic masculinity in terms of misandry. Actually I cautioned against klipt's association of the two, as I don't find them to be dependent on each other. My working definition of toxic masculinity was:

> Toxic masculinity is stereotypical or reductive modes of action or thinking perceived by men as expected or required, which can be harmful to other men or other people.

I see a purposeful intention from you to remove gender from the discussion and talk about sexism instead, but I'd further caution that this is a mechanism for distracting from the discussion of these harmful modes of action and thinking. Changing the way males are raised, so that they learn a broader way of approaching the world, has to include a specific discussion of the things that necessitate the conversation in the first place.

> I'm not an expert, but I see misandry generally defined as "hatred of men", and not including devaluation in the way that the "incel" sorts of communities describe the attack on masculinity.

When one defines words how one would like to define them one can make any argument one likes. Popular definitions of misogyny include such behaviours as expressing the notion "You're not a real woman because you Y. A real woman would X." This is the devaluation of a particular person's expression of their femininity. There has to be an equivalent for the same done to a masculine person regarding their masculinity. This concept has absolutely nothing to do with the detestable, disgusting and disturbing so-called "incel community".

If your definition of misandry doesn't include the devaluation of certain ways of expressing masculinity - say by showing vulnerability or anxiety - or having small genetalia and not being ashamed of that fact, then how will we discuss such concepts? What word would you use? How can we possibly debate behaviour driven by sexism by using sexist language in which one party is forbidden the equally powerful and precise terms with which they may describe their plight?

Do you propose that a masculine person making fun of someone who drives a large vehicle, whom they do not know, who presents as masculine, for having undersized genetalia simply because they drive a large vehicle is expressing toxic masculinity but a feminine person expressing the same, for the same reasons, is not? What would they be expressing? In any case, that seems to be a double standard in and of itself. Why does the behaviour's name depend on the characteristics of those who engage in it, especially when the result is the same?

As to your perception of my purported desire to remove gender from the discussion and talk about sexism - no, of course I don't. We're discussing the interaction of presentation, identification, social expectation, gender and gender expression here. However, that interaction and the societal expectations we're discussing - in as much as they relate to sexism and the language we use - are rooted in sexism and sexist hypocrisy.

Unless we attack that, and ensure all parties have equally powerful language at their disposal, any attempt to eliminate the behaviours toxic masculinity describes will fail because we will fail to address all of its causes - and I want that effort to succeed mightily.

You are masculine if you identify as masculine and you are feminine if you identify as feminine - to the extent you identify as either. The point is, you are a person and should be treated as such no matter how you present either characteristic.

You define toxic masculinity as:

> Toxic masculinity is stereotypical or reductive modes of action or thinking perceived by men as expected or required, which can be harmful to other men or other people.

So, what drives that behaviour? Why do they think something so deleterious is warranted? How can we best put an end to it for good? It seems rather clear to me and I've expressed that here in this thread.

I'm not attempting to distract from the assault on toxic masculinity by discussing sexism and internalised sexism. In fact, I am attempting to help us, as a society, strike its heart and kill it dead.

I appreciate the passion you have for the topic.

If you try to have a discussion without establishing first principles you’re likely to get trapped by participants not realizing they’re talking past each other. So I’ve offered a definition for both terms, which seem to work except for your wanting to add other assertions to misandry, which is cool.

If you try and solve everything at once, you’re likely to solve nothing at all. Sexism, or prejudice in any form, should be minimized, but the discussion here has been related to the original article and how anxiety and other feelings may be a factor in some of these “toxic” modes.

All this talk about "toxic masculinity" tells me that there's something fundamentally wrong about the whole conversation. Because nobody wants to define what masculinity, healthy masculinity, is supposed to look like in all aspects of life and, most importantly, how it relates to sexuality in general and sexuality with women. I just get the sense that masculinity as a whole is supposed to be toxic.

Nobody in this conversation has done so, because nobody in this conversation is attempting to present a complete explanation of the world. Try a very quick search before saying "nobody wants to x". https://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/masculinity-healthy...

Healthy masculinity could be inferred as the opposite of "toxic masculinity", which I do offer a general description of above.

Indeed. In my opinion, the term is less than ideal because it conflates a complex mixture of awful beliefs and actions - misogyny, internalised misandry, and misandry; and their results in the behaviours of those who hold them.

At the heart of it, my issue with the term is that it places the emphasis on those exhibiting the syndrome, and their need to simply "just stop doing it" as though it were driven by nothing other than personal choice - no matter the personal cost of opposing it, instead of on how we, as a society, can work on eliminating the underlying causes of it. It's clear that the beliefs and behaviours which make up toxic masculinity have to stop - it's better if they never seem to masculine people like the beliefs and/or behaviours are expected in the first place.

I contend that, by placing the focus on the behaviour and not the underlying causes, usage of the term misdirects the efforts those who want to change society to eliminate those behaviours. Worse, it does so in a way which fails to effectively highlight all of their sources and misleads those who don't identify as masculine into thinking they have no way to help or are powerless. This is the opposite of what we as a society want to do. Everyone has power and a role to play in ending toxic masculinity - it's not just people who identify as masculine who need to examine how they contribute to toxic behaviour by masculine individuals; we all do.

We already have words which adequately express the behaviour's underlying causes - sexism and its internalised variants, and we should use them so that we can target our actions and descern our responsibilities in how we can make society better for everyone.

However, I have little hope for this kind of direct language and issue tackling, given the climate of the popular discussion in these regards. It really does require everyone keep watch on how they interact with and treat others, and what messages they might be sending. That's hard work but it's worth it, especially if people can just be people without having to take censure for being themselves, however they decide that should be - especially if it's not harming anyone else.

>Being consistent with terminology is sadly underrated.

These are extremely complicated topics, and I doubt if there are two people in the world that understand them exactly in the same way.

I understand the desire to have a dependable way to talk about them, but it just doesn't exist. The only way to make progress with other people when talking about these issues is to listen and ask questions - not to depend on the fact that you know some dictionary definition of a word.

And really, that's not limited to these topics, but is basically true of all communication.

I know that there good explanations for saying that there is a difference between 'misandry' and 'toxic masculinity', and focusing on trying to force a certain terminology would completely miss the actual point of the discussion.

Being consistent with terminology is not a strong point of language in common usage. I think you'd struggle to get anyone to say that a man who believes he should never cry is expressing misandry.

If you think crying has any psychological benefits whatsoever, then shaming only men who access that benefit is absolutely misandry.

If you're shaming yourself it's internalized misandry but that's still obviously a form of misandry.

in many ways isn't it two sides of the same coin?

The only thing that toxic masculinity is supposed to mean is that there are aspects of traditional masculine norms which can manifest in harmful ways in modern society.

For instance, men often have difficulty seeking help for mental or emotional health issues, because traditional masculine identity requires men to be stoic and independent of emotional connection - such needs are considered feminine, and a weakness when displayed in men. That would be an example of toxic masculinity.

To continue from a now deleted reply - toxic masculinity is not internalized misandry. Misandry is a hatred of men. Toxic masculinity is not, nor does it derive from, a hatred of men. If one acknowledges that masculine identity and masculine culture exist, and that men have unique social, mental and emotional issues which derive in part from the expectations that society has of men, then one should be able to find the definition of toxic masculinity where these intersect, because the expectations that society has of men are defined, in large part, by men, themselves.

No, that's absolutely wrong. Men and women have strongly defined expectations of themselves and of each other. Some are social and cultural. Some are genetic. Many are contradictory - which leads to impossible demands that can't be achieved by either gender.

All of the current models for dealing with this are wrong. Neither liberal feminism and identity politics nor alt-right resentment and nostalgia for an imaginary lost "real" masculinity are healthy solutions to this problem.

Essentially, both approaches are resentment-based rather than reality-based. Some of the resentments are justified, others are rather artificially exaggerated. But I don't think either approach is the last or best word.

What impossible to achieve demands are being made in the definition of toxic masculinity?

For reference, I'm using the definition from Wikipedia[0], since disagreeing on terms is a common problem in discussions like this.

Interestingly, Wikipedia says the term and concept were invented by the men's movement, not resentful feminists.


I dont think its a cultural thing. Men on average show less empathy and emotion than women. For obvious reasons, child rearing vs hunting.

But most writers and journalists tend to be on the feminine side of the spectrum because that correlates with verbal ability. So this theory has emerged that most men are actually just as emotional as women but are hiding their feelings because society expects them to do it.

Maybe a fringe of men who are all co-incidentally in persuasive fields in academia, entertainment and media exhibit this, but the average male may not.

>But most writers and journalists tend to be on the feminine side of the spectrum because that correlates with verbal ability.

Most writers and journalists have traditionally been men, because men have traditionally been considered more trustworthy and intelligent. The cultural stigma against female authorship has been strong enough that they have tended to either publish under male pseudonyms or neutral identities (such as J.K. Rowling) lest their feminine identity harm their earning potential.

Do you really think JK Rowling's gender has harmed her earning potential? She was outed - if that's the word - as a woman - almost as soon as the books began selling and no one seemed particularly bothered.

It seems odd to pick a woman who is a billionaire as evidence of poor earning potential.

J.K. Rowling's publisher suggested she use those initials rather than her real name because it was believed that a fantasy authored by a woman would not be read by boys, and thus would have less earning potential[0].

Her success is evidence that the prejudice is unwarranted, and culturally waning, not that it doesn't exist, and certainly not that it never existed.

And there's a long history of women authors publishing under male names for similar reasons, the Bronte sisters being famous examples[1,2]. Although obviously in their cases, the stigma against women authors was much worse than in modern times.

Also, data shows that authorship still favors men considerably[3, 4], although women do sometimes dominate certain genres.






She used her initials rather than her given name to get past the hurdle of being published in the first place, while she was a single mum living on government benefits.

This surprises me as a male who suffers from anxiety and exhibits none of these symptoms.

To be more specific my anxiety manifests as a feeling of unease, sometimes fear; and at times blends in with OCD where I become unsure of my short term memory and whether or not something did or did not happen.

I was only recently diagnosed with anxiety after spending thousands and thousands on an emergency room visit and visits to a cardiologist, and I work for a healthcare company with free access to GPs!

I had a variety of symptoms and none of them immediately seemed to shout "anxiety" to my physicians. I was given dozens of blood screenings, X-Rays, CT Scans, EKGs, Echocardiograms, stress tests, sleep studies, only to be told that my heart is in wonderful shape, and that all of my symptoms were probably anxiety (and after being put on Lexapro for several months, the bulk of the issues really seem to have resolved).

I was experiencing: chest tightness, left-side chest and arm pains, random dizziness, random feelings of disorientation, massive blood pressure spikes that would last for hours (110/70 -> 190/120), headaches, pressure in my left abdomen, heart palpitations, and several more very worrying symptoms.

At the end of the day, it all seemingly boiled down to a generalized anxiety disorder.

Thank you for writing this.

Last December I started getting some kind of weird 'fog' in my head. I didn't take it seriously when it first started and thought it would go away on its own. But instead it became worse and I got severely cognitively impaired. My speech got slow, I forgot basic words, I forgot names of people I knew, my logical thinking was impaired. It improved a little bit but I'm still incredibly cognitively impaired.

I spent hours searching online, using complex search queries and APIs to gather a lot of info on other people that report the same symptoms. This wasn't because I felt anxious, but I just really wanted to continue with my life ASAP and my symptoms seemed very vague. The conclusion was that, besides some medical causes, people with the same symptoms usually had anxiety.

Since I don't feel anxious or depressed and it appeared suddenly I still want to rule some medical causes out. But it is comforting to know that when all medical causes are ruled out, there is still a huge chance of it being just anxiety.

You may want to attempt to improve your sleep. Foggy head with reduced cognition and memory loss are pretty major symptoms of long term inadequate sleep. They’re very common symptoms that parents of young children complain about, and can have some very long recovery times. Personally it took almost 6 months to recover once my first child started sleeping through the night. All it takes is an hour a night deficit for an extended period of time to really impact mental acuity, but you might not notice because it’s almost enough on a daily basis, and by the time the cumulative effects show up, it’s not always obvious sleep is the culpret.

Thank you!

Actually right around the time my cognition became bad the quality of my sleep also got worse. I sleep 8 hours every night but most days I don't really feel rested, although I neither feel sleepy during the day. I've done a sleep study and I'm seeing a neurologist specialized in sleep later this month to hear the results, I hope he has an idea.

I had a really rough month where my 2yo was jet lagged and waking up crying multiple times a night. After that I've had two months of anxiety on and off, this is really helpful. Have always suspected that sleep could have been the trigger but didn't realize that an hour a night could make such a huge difference. Cheers!

And of course this is a self-reinforcing downward spiral. Sleep quality destroyed by kids, underperformance in all areas of life due to sleep deprivation, anxiety and stress due to underperformance, making it harder to get to sleep...

I was going to say the same. That sounds like my on chronic sleep deprivation, and as you say, after months or years of sleep deprivation it can take weeks of consistent good sleep for the symptoms to fade.

I experience brain fog about once every two weeks in exactly the way you describe and I've thought it's anxiety as well. I tried describing this to a psychiatrist and a cardiologist and neither of them took me seriously and said it's nothing. The only thing that helps me is meditation followed by weightlifting, and it helps tremendously. The hard part is that it always occurs around late-morning/early-afternoon, so if I'm at work I just have to suffer at my desk and get nothing done for the rest of the day.

I came across the mental disorders 'depersonalization' and 'derealization'. People usually describe it as feeling foggy or like a dream. Maybe that might be what you mean and help you explaining it.

The 'depersonalization' is probably the 'fog' I'm talking about. But I know that sleep deprivation can also cause it, so I hope that I have something treatable related to my sleep.

I had this problem and assumed I was just getting older and dumber... In my defense my thinking was impaired at the time. I had a sleep apnoea so I echo people mentioning sleep issues as a potential cause.

Sounds like Sleep Apnea, maybe get a sleep study.

Did you by any chance get tested for glandular fever?

Ok I'll bite: glandular fever is commonly known as Mono. What that got to do w/ the heart problem and anxiety?

They're not replying to that comment, they're replying to the comment about the brain fog.

Have you had any mood / behavioral changes from the lexapro? I similarly stacked up a ton of doctor visits due to dizziness, chest tightness, blood pressure spikes, etc...

My doc is leaning towards the same generalized axiety /panic disorder, but were currently experimenting with just taking an antihistamine to calm down. "Real" medication is the next step, but, honestly, the thought of having to take something "altering" for the rest of my life is itself anxiety causing.

The most bizarre thing with the whole whole anxiety business was its sudden onset. Everything was fine, and then one day it wasn't.

Lexapro preserved my personality shockingly well. A friend who took it said the same thing. We felt like ourselves the whole time, just without so much anxiety. If you drink caffeine or consume sugar, the "altering" thing is already out the window. And it doesn't have to be your whole life. I'm off it after a few years.

The only downside to lexapro was that my anxiety and depression were partly if not primarily the result of a bunch of poor mental models and resulting poor life choices. I believed a bunch of mean shit about myself, and so looked after myself with a commensurate neglect. On the meds, I kept living poorly; I just wasn't so acutely distraught about it.

It did work to alleviate my anxiety, and in the process train me to catch panic attacks early and think myself out of a spiral. I'm glad I took it when I did, because it helped and I didn't have the courage or wherewithal to go to therapy that early in my life. But I'm also glad I'm off it.

Unless your anxiety is seriously debilitating, I would suggest you spend 6 months in CBT / talk therapy, before going on medication. Or go on em but also do therapy simultaneously.

Either something in your mind is generating this anxiety, and it's worth it to get under the hood and treat the underlying issue. Or it's truly random, and it's a good idea to train your mind to be resilient to such things.

We initially tried Metoprolol for, but we found that while it stopped the palpitations, the panic attacks still happened just as often. For me, Lexapro really was a win/win drug. My personality hasn't changed much aside from the fact that my overall emotions are a bit more muted. If my normal emotional range is a 0-10, on Lexapro it's closer to a 3-7. There are some sexually related side effects that you may want to look up as well. I have personally experienced some, but I don't consider them serious by any means.

And my attacks, like yours, just started happening out of the blue one day. No real prior warnings.

Similar situation. I kept going to the doctors for a while, but they insist everything is fine.

I’ve got anxiety in general, but also some more specific health anxiety from a history of being obese. I’ve fixed the issue now, but the statistical reason to believe that _this time_ there’s actually something wrong doesn’t help the anxiety.

I spend a lot of time convincing myself that yes, I can in fact breathe right now, and no, I’m not actively dying of a heart attack. Very stressful situation

Had almost exactly the same problem, down to identical symptoms -- same side of my body, etc.

My guess it that it's due to some supplements I was taking years ago (chiefly 5-HTP and magnesium) causing chest pain and/or heart palpitations, and the experience of that etching trauma into my psyche in a way that makes me experience physical symptoms. The worst part is that it feeds on itself, until I was sitting on a sidewalk having a panic attack causing massive hyperventilation and crushing chest pain, certain I was having a heart attack, barely able to dial 911.

Unfortunately it took $8000 in hospital bills from multiple emergency room visits to figure this out.

Similar experience, including multiple trips to the ER fearing my imminent death. Still waiting for the bill on the latest one. The first time it happened I had dialed 911 on my phone but stopped short, fearing the impending life-ruining debt it might plunge me into. Thankfully it wasn't actually a heart attack, but the fact that people even have to stop to make a risk assessment like that is dystopian.

As for the symptoms, it is indeed astonishing how "physical" anxiety can be. Most people conceive of anxiety as just an emotional state, and think a "panic attack" is what you have when you're really nervous about a math test and get a cold sweat. The true horror of a real panic attack can't be described to someone who hasn't experienced that level of mortal terror.

And it's definitely true that once the trauma is "etched" into you like you describe, your mind can reconstruct it again much more easily. I find physical sensations that used to be mildly annoying, like a stomach cramp or post-exercise exhaustion, can summon the anxiety right back again.

The scientific evidence for the long-term effectiveness of SSRIs is dubious at best, so I'm attempting a more comprehensive life change to improve my outlook, including trying to build stronger connections with people and community. Isolation is one of the most intense causes of depression and anxiety, among other health problems, so addressing it is a good idea for anyone.

It is saddening to hear that the fear of resulting financial debt due to hospital bills, stopped you short from dialing 911 in such a precarious situation.

There goes my fantasy that in the west at least health care was top notch and affordable compared to Africa.

The propaganda we export out of the US regarding our wealth is self-delusion. A lot of people here believe many fantastical things that should be trivially dispelled by skimming GoFundMe's Discover page.

What? We're far wealthier in the US than the vast majority of the world. It's not propaganda, it's data and fact.

Healthcare and education are generally more expensive here than in Europe, but people also get paid more here and keep more of their salaries than in the rest of the developed world. Goods are much cheaper in the US than in Europe and we generally enjoy more material wealth than the Europeans.

You are deluding yourself with your bigotry against the US.

Why do you attribute this to 5-HTP and magnesium? I take both, and other nootropics, and also experience similar symptoms when I’m stressed.

5-htp is associated with increased anxiety / panic attacks. Found out after I got one. (Racing heart, palpitations out of nowhere, spent a night in hospital doing bunch of heart tests.) There is very little research on it, because it's not patented, but try pubmed etc. iirc it increases anxiety especially in the first days, weeks then it levels out.

For me it was palpitations from 5-HTP. Heart skips a beat, then sudden extreme vertigo and anxiety skyrockets. This happened several times a day.

And magnesium caused a dull, ever-present pressure/ache in the left side of my chest that went mostly away (except when I'm very anxious) after I stopped taking it.

That's interesting. I've actually found that it, coupled with other nootropics, reduces my anxiety by quite a lot. I've been taking it for a couple months and haven't had any negative side effects. I used to get "racing heart", palpitations, HBP, and other symptoms when I'm stressed (which now I'm attributing to the general bucket of "anxiety"), and these supplements really help calm my nerves throughout the day and I haven't had many symptoms since.

I had a very similar experience. Started when I was 25 after a 3 month stint of being unemployed. It started with a panic attack (which I thought was a heart attack at the time), and I ended up going to the hospital, a cardiologist, sleep clinic, gastro, etc. until eventually came to the conclusion it was nothing wrong with my heart but rather panic disorder.

I take a low dose of xanax now and all the symptoms went away and I no longer have panic attacks. I'm working on finding a better daily medication, but it completely changed my life to have a temporary solution after 3+ years of struggle and suffering with panic attacks multiple times per week.

So I just have to ask because I've experienced tons of panic attacks but also have very strong family history of death by cardiac arrest -- Is there a subjective, experiential way to differentiate between the two? I always assume it's a panic attack "and if it's not just die in bed" but...

The problem is that both heart attacks and panic attacks share a variety of symptoms and even just learning about certain symptoms of heart attacks (after our CFO died of one about a year back) has made those symptoms manifest during my panic attacks. The other thing that makes this difficult is that anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and heart attacks don't have consistent symptoms among all individuals.

So it's really a crap shoot. I had a lot of cardiac work done, so I can pretty confidently say for the next decade or so, barring go through any drastic lifestyle changes, that my heart isn't going to go out on me. But I also found ways to mentally explain all the symptoms I was experiencing and deescalate myself.

Problem: "My chest is hurting." | Question: "Am I hyperventilating?" Problem: "My jaw is hurting." | Question: "Am I clenching my teeth?" Problem: "I feel short of breath" | Question: "Can I force myself to do breathing exercises?"

I agree with what jdsfighter said - you should go to the doctor to get some confidence that there isn't some sort of underlying heart issue. After that though, it's really a mental game that requires/required some therapy.

My panic attacks last from 3-10 minutes typically and can go up to 90 minutes. I wear an Apple Watch which would (hopefully) let me know if I had an arrhythmia. I also check my heart rate when I'm having a panic attack (which sometimes doesn't help) and I try to see if it's consistently going up, or if with deep breathing I'm able to get it to go down. Lastly, I have the xanax, which usually fully kicks in within 10-15 minutes. My attacks have the shortness of breath, feeling like I can't catch my breath, rapid heart rate, tunnel vision, etc. I try to find a calm/quiet space to relax, listen to my Calm app, and if I'm lucky, lay down for a bit.

Same! I even got my appendix removed and probably didn’t need it. My cardiologist is who finally told me that it was anxiety and convinced me.

I never took medication though. Just cut back on caffeine and lots of rest once I get wound up.

>>I had a variety of symptoms and none of them immediately seemed to shout "anxiety" to my physicians

This is usually not true in most cases, it's actually something a good GP will explicitly consider by asking you the questions.

Maybe it was not possible due to something about your example, but it's recognized all the time in similar cases.

It's also a case for having a regular doctor in some form, because it's easier to recognize based on how well they know you.

I'm a doctor. I can tell you that even if I think a middle aged man with chest pain has anxiety he's still getting a full cardiac workup. Even a 20yo woman with anxiety will get a cardiac workup. It doesn't sound like these doctors missed anything based on this story. It sounds like they were ruling out the stuff that'll kill you quickly.

I don't see where we are disagreeing? I'm not arguing against triage.

GPs were mentioned - I'm simply stating that it's not uncommon that a patient comes to see a GP questions are asked to elicit the role of stress and anxiety in the situation as appropriate.

This does not rule out other care or take precedence over it as you know.

Reading your comment now I also don't see where we are disagreeing. Though, I didn't say we are disagreeing, and I don't see why we need to.

Edit: Did you by any chance edit your comment? I swear the word "miss" was in there.

My mistake then in inferring that.

I don't recall making such an edit, usually I would note a change in semantic meaning, I believe the primary error was inferring a contradiction.

Thank you for clarifying.

Everyone is different I guess, but here's an example from my experience as someone with pretty bad GED.

For whatever reason, I don't like crowded, enclosed spaces such as busy supermarkets. I don't feel fear and don't feel threatened by environment, but I do get irrationally irritated to the point of getting quite aggressive.

After taking CBD for anxiety I found that I was much more relaxed and just ignored other people at the shops.

I think it has a lot to do with gender roles, personality and even machismo and a question of which side of the fight or flight response you tend to fall.

I can relate to this fight/flight response in crowded spaces myself, and how my SO and I might have very similar feelings expressed in completely opposite ways.

We tend to send one kind of reaction to the psychologist, and the other to jail (I guess it ties to self-harm versus potential harm to others).

I think society and psychology define or at least frame certain words in a way they apply more to one gender, not unlike how traditional autism definitions tend to omit a lot of female autistic behaviour.

Ironically enough, getting in touch with my aggression, doing lots of sports and being very fit makes me feel more relaxed and able to handle situations that would have made me "anxious" in my early 20's.

I feel "masculinity" has been somewhat under attack for many years now and it might very well be that for many men embracing male aggression and drive so it can be incorporated into society in a useful manner or through positive outlets would be a much better solution than repressing male urges and demonising them. If the main party line for male problems is "get in touch with your female side" and pretending you're something you are not, I see that doing more harm than good for a lot of men. Allowing men (their natural impulse?) to feel strong, capable, in control and even aggressive might actually make them less violent in ways detrimental to society.

Much the same experience here, including the difficulty with memory which I find to be the most insidious thing. What have you found helps it, if you don't mind me asking?

Not the OP but I would describe my anxiety in identical terms.

When I feel the doubt about past memories/decisions start to creep, I whip out my phone and make some brief notes (usually keep one document per trigger). I will just write a few bullet points detailing what facts I am sure of right now along with the reassurances I am telling myself in that moment.

Then, next time it happens I open the same note, read my previous thoughts and relax into it knowing I’ve been here before.

I suppose it’s just an anxiety journal, nothing novel, but it works for me. Over time as I accumulate more facts the effect sort of compounds and simply knowing I’ve got the notes is enough to push the anxiety away.

Ah, I hadn’t thought of the journaling idea. I do try to start and end my day with brief/debrief note taking to create more continuity in my intentions and memory, but that doesn’t address other sources of anxiety in between. Thanks very much, grateful for your response.

It describes my symptoms - anger, lashing out, sleep issues. Meds have helped enormously.

Infrasound can cause anxiety, a good source for this are wind turbines, but its naturally occurring in the wild anyway. Stags emit it to warn females and young of predator's without giving away the location of the stag as the sound hits the ground and spreads in all direction, like you see with bass frequencies. High pitched frequencies are very directional by contrast. Disney sound engineers discovered it in the US, when they slowed down the recording of an electrical device, all those in the sound lab went home not feeling very well at all, its a fascinating story of discovery. Diet can also cause anxiety, the renin angiotensin system can certainly increase anxiety, exercise will counter the effects of anxiety, which is less common today than 50 years ago.

I'm an anxious person, but my anxiety just looks like regular anxiety. It led me to take sub-optimal decisions and overall made my life more difficult that what it could have been. I didn't know anxiety was a thing, and that it was "curable" until I was 25. At that time, my gf who just became MD noticed my issue and prescribed me benzodiazepines. They really helped. I know they have bad press as they can be abused, but in my case, I take them occasionally and I haven't noticed any side effect or addiction.

I don't think anxiety can be cured but the symptoms can certainly be alleviated. It really helped me to understand that it was a condition, like headache, and that it was temporary and could be controlled to some extent.

It's also interesting that while I'm still anxious, I'm not anxious for the same things anymore. I used to be paralyzed by the mere thought of giving a talk (esp. in English). I don't care as much anymore. Now it manifests itself in other occasions.

For what it's worth: I know that writing is not the same as speaking, and of course I don't know how long it took you to compose that comment, but your English is excellent.

I've had great success in treating my anxiety (and general health) with mind-body approaches (yoga, pranayama, qigong) but these take time and commitment that I expect most would not be willing to gamble with. I do think that in my case I'm approaching "cured" (albeit slowly.)

common thread is to just deal with the symptoms. imo there is a pollutant in the environment causing this. or it is many pollutants. there are a lot of things considered a neurotoxin in the food supply.

what if we took all the neurotoxins in our food supply and put the maximum allowable amount for each one and put it all in a cup and drank/ate it? what if we did this daily? what if we gave this to an infant?

so instead of ceasing the consumption of these things we are focused on consuming “good” neurotoxins to counter act the effects of the “bad” neurotoxins?

This one hits home. I have been arguing with my wife over stupid things that have been triggering my anger. Two weeks ago I ended up in the emergency room with a heart rate of 220. Got diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia. I have continued having episodes and it is obvious to me that the trigger is anxiety. I worry a lot about too many things. Always thinking of worst case scenario. I have a cardiology appointment in a few hours and depending how that goes my next step is to see a doctor to get my anxiety under control. Hopeful it will stop my anger issues.

Edit: I would also like to add that I think my anxiety and preparing for worst case scenario in everything I do has been a factor in my career success. I worry I will lose my "edge" if I change. Looking for advice on this.

I have found the Buddhist's have a neat trick to this. I think it boils down all of life is suffering, but suffering is just an illusion.

When you start seeing reality that way, it becomes easier to detach emotionally from everything. It's not that you don't care, you obviously can. But the physiological stress responses like the one your describing can be neutralized by training the response system.

If you have watched talks by Buddhist monks[1] they have described people who suffer from horrible neurological disorders that cause them feeling of pain almost like a chainsaw and the emotional response from that. But through meditation and other practices their heart rate and brain responses can be calmer than the average person.

This is by no means easy it takes years of dedication of aligning your physiological systems with the mental one. But at the end of the day everything is just more or less chemicals and electrical impulses to various parts of the body. Knowing that is the ultimate freedom from that. There are usually lots of factors involve whether its fear, anxiety and the whole spectrum of "darkness" needs to be addressed at a deeper level.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fixvb3s25Uk

I’ve been thinking about this a lot too. It seems like anxiety, paranoia, hyper vigilance, and obsessive behavior are unintentionally encouraged and rewarded in the workplace. At least most of the people who have risen quickly around me have some elements of this. I hope and wish there were another path to success, but I don’t see many counter-examples in my day to day.

For what it's worth, anxiety can be well-managed through a combination of medication and habits, depending on your own situation and body. Ask me how I know.

Hang in there, the suffering does have a good end.

I thought, I was the only one like that. Always, thinking of the worst case scenario and lowering down my expectations so that I never feel disappointed. I would love some help on this as well.

Most sex differentiated medical stories which pop up in my feed tend to be about drug interactions in women being misunderstood because of the overtesting of males. That mental illness is mis-characterised in men, speaks to me of two things:

1) we haven't had a large enough war to produce the volume of war psychosis outcomes which correct for this and

2) women are tragically over-represented in all forms of mental illness profiles, which may relate to their real condition but also may relate to distortions in societal views of women and mental illness.

Perhaps men aren't comfortable seeking treatment in general. In the Sopranos, Tony is deeply ashamed and embarrassed that he is seeing a therapist. He keeps it secret from his friends and even his family. It's just a show, but I bet a lot of people, men especially with preserving that machismo, operate like that and refuse to seek help with mental health, despite readily going to the doctor for a physical ailment. At least with women there is less of a stigma for talking with a therapist, but the stigma still exists.

Drugs are typically never tested on women who might be pregnant, to not risk the health of the baby.

This is a reasonable precaution, but it also means that if a drug has different effect on women, the "scientific" testing might not show that.

In this case it seems like women being usually more open emotionally means that anxiety manifests in a more intuitive way, whereas for men there's another layer of indirection due to emotional repression.

I used to think so too about women usually being more open emotionally, but I also think that society frowns more upon men expressing "male" emotions. Whereas a woman may cry, talk and hug, I think a lot of men would react with aggression, both to rid themselves of the negative feeling and to feel powerful, capable and in charge again. For the same negative feeling, I think a lot of men would not appreciate to be held and comforted because it would make them feel small and incapable; somebody worthy of pity. But society has not been very tolerant of the ways men express their emotions in recent decennia, instead of trying to find more useful and constructive ways for men to express emotions aligned with their instincts other than "getting in touch with one's female side". We've now got the false dilemma of "crying like a woman" or emotional repression instead of trying to find better outlets for "male" feelings. So men are now allowed to cry, but is that really what they want, what helps them?

3) We really don't know what mental illness is, outside of what makes people criminally violent.

Honestly, we don't even know that it is, not in the same sense that we think of physical illness. There's a really good Philosophy Bites on how applying the conceptual model of physical illness to mental differences is problematic: https://philosophybites.com/2016/01/steven-hyman-on-categori...

Just to be clear, I'm not saying that X is or is not real. It's more the point made by George Box: "All models are wrong; some models are useful." The traditional medical model has helped plenty of people when applied to mental issues. But it definitely made me think there are less wrong models still to come.

Historically, the (entirely reasonable, given lack of basic equity in property rights, body integrity, voting, law) discontent women displayed in western society which now expresses politically as feminism, was written down to hysteria, depression or other mental illness and thus it (mental illness in women) was used as a mechanism of control.

I would like to think this ended last century, but I am suspicious it lingers on. The medical profession advances at a snails pace, and it would not surprise me to find out that senior medical staff routinely apply mysogynistic models to womens health. I know politicians do, the evidence of this is abundant (reproductive rights)

Anxiousness, alertness to danger, and the imperative not to show it, is an essence of the male human condition surely?

What a really insightful comment. I had never thought of it from that perspective. I like to view culture as a layer on top of our instinct and natural proclivity for certain behaviours. Men's choice to exhibit or inhibit their anxiety probably would have dictated mating behaviour. No mate would choose another that visibly responded to fears that weren't real. So an adaption would be the redirection of that anxiety into violence or antisocial behaviours, which ironically, are more attractive to some mates, eg. the bad boy image. Fascinating stuff!

Evolutionary psychology says that women are looking for men who have the characteristics of a strong leader. That means assertiveness, calm, self-confidence, happiness, etc. If you look around, that seems to be very much true. I don't think women are necessarily paying that much attention to wealth, but it definitely seems like they are drawn to confident and charismatic men. Men on the other hand, don't seem to mind if a woman is shy or anxious.

It puts you in a tough spot, as a male, because you want to be truthful and honest, express your feelings in a genuine way, but at the same time, there's that voice in your head, that strong societal pressure telling you that telling a woman that you are afraid, anxious or unsure might push her away. I've had a situation recently where a woman suggested that she wanted to sleep with me and came back to my place. We were both shy and nothing happened. She suggested that our being too shy was my fault, that I should have broken the ice and made her feel comfortable, and then she left. I kid you not. My self-esteem was shattered for a week afterwards.

This kind of thing is hard to cope with. I think I obviously need to pick kinder women to go on dates with, but I understand why so many men are drawn to alcohol and drug use. It's because they feel society can't accept those feelings of inadequacy and anxiety that they have... And they're partially right. As a male, if you show weakness, you can lose social standing. I think attitudes are maturing and it's easier to be truthful and honest as a modern male, but it's still tough. The worst part is that it seems society generally does not give a shit about the struggles men go through. The popular narrative is all about oppression of women by men, and there isn't that much room for listening to the issues men face. I know that's how it feels to a lot of people. Anyways, just my two cents. To the men who struggle out there, you are not alone, and I hope that you can find good friends who are willing to listen to you.

> My self-esteem was shattered for a week afterwards. I think I obviously need to pick kinder women to go on dates with.

Based on what you've written, I'm not convinced her behaviour was all that unkind. At least you received honest feedback which I think is kind. Consider the social norms of the society you live in and then consider the impact to her self-esteem your lack of initiative had.

I say this as someone who had the exact same problem with shyness. Don't get me wrong, shyness is nice, but shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you'd like to.

surely if these traits are valuable to survival they would be valuable to females too? dont you think the difference might be nurture not nature?

I don't think men were picky enough to care if woman had those traits or not.

Toxic masculinity: "The concept of toxic masculinity is used in psychology and media discussions of masculinity to refer to certain cultural norms that are associated with harm to society and to men themselves." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxic_masculinity

It's not the same as misandry. "Homophobia" sounds like it means "afraid of homosexuals" but that is incorrect. "Toxic masculinity" kind of sounds like it means "all masculinity is toxic" but that is incorrect.

I am female, have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, have been to therapy, and am interested in gender theory. These comments read like unguided group therapy mixed with fuzzy realization of the concept of toxic masculinity.

In my opinion, toxic masculinity is a political term, not a solidly scientific one. Whatever the case, the nomenclature definitely does not fit the bill of abject observation associated with science. While the term isn't synonymous with misandry, the very notion contains misandric elements and value judgement. Harm is in the eye of the beholder, especially when it comes to inculturation and socialisation.

It is my firm hope that the public debate can move beyond firmly entrenching further into the male-female dichotomy and start to see all human behaviour as part of a spectrum, where gender norms are clearly understood to be a statistical tendency but not a rule. "Toxic masculinity" does nothing to further that goal.

There are multiple definitions of "toxic masculinity" even in the Wikipedia article you linked. The intended meaning of the term seems to vary from user to user, which I think is one of the reasons people react defensively to it; they're all responding to the most frequent usage of "toxic masculinity" they've heard, which often don't match.

From the Wiki: "In a psychoanalytic context, Terry Kupers describes toxic masculinity as 'the need to aggressively compete and dominate others'".

Is a competitive sports match where both teams are engaged in a spirited attempt to compete and dominate others an example of toxic masculinity? Is it only toxic if the participants feel a 'need' pressured from the outside to participate? What if it's an internal need, and brings them joy? Would a woman needing to compete and dominate others be displaying toxic masculinity? Is competition itself masculine, or toxic? Is a kid who's excited to wake up early every day to play sports displaying "toxic" traits? Already the need for asterisks is present.

Relevant, I think: The Motte & Bailey Argument


(Edit: all of the questions I asked aren't meant to be prove the non-existence or non-impact of harmful male-standard behaviors; based on a carefully curated definition of "toxic masculinity", I am thoroughly opposed to it. My point is that upon hearing a single simple definition, all of these relevant questions can be immediately generated, and I doubt all the experts would answer them identically, which I think means there's something wrong with the definition as it stands.)

Of course wanting to win your tennis match / soccer game / ping pong tournament isn't inherently toxic. I don't want to get in a match of word definitions here but the point of the "toxic" part of the term is that it's the part that does harm.

The specific usage that I was trying to point out was not correct which I stand by is the "I assumed from the phrase 'toxic masculinity' that it means 'masculinity is toxic'" and the accompanying weird anti-feminist-backed-by-misguided-logic mindset that seems unfortunately common on HN

You neglected to include the entirety of definition attributed to Terry Kupers... ironically, the part which would make it less simplistic than you make it out to be:

    In a psychoanalytic context, Terry Kupers describes toxic masculinity as "the need to 
    aggressively compete and dominate others" and as "the constellation of socially 
    regressive male traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, 
    homophobia and wanton violence".
If you're going to criticize the term, fair enough, but don't be disingenuous in doing so. It's obvious from reading that sentence in its entirety that he wasn't defining toxic masculinity as being merely competitive drive in all its forms, absent any relevant context or reference to psychological or social harm.

Many anxious men (and women) aren't suffering from an anxiety disorder. Their anxiety is a perfectly reasonable response to the life they are living. I'm fine with therapy, meditation, and medication as long as they aren't used as tools to make it bearable to stay in a bad situation.

This comment couldn't be more counter-productive.

The article makes it clear that a feeling of anxiety at certain times is completely normal; it is when that anxiety is affects your daily life, causing you distress, or leads to depression or harm should it be concidered an anxiety disorder.

The article notes that men can react to or present with anxiety differently; and that representation is ignored, leading to a reduction in their quality of life. Dimissing it, as you have, is exactly what prevents men from receiving mental health support and society, at large, from recognising mental health issues in men.

If you are chronically stressed because you are working a terrible job, have overwhelming family obligations, etc., that doesn’t necessarily mean you have an “anxiety disorder”.

It might instead be that your anxiety is a perfectly natural response to bad circumstances. To fix the problem it would be better to address the causes of the stress instead of trying to just treat symptoms.

At a societal scale, it would be better to e.g. improve worker protection laws, expand the social safety net, subsidize childcare for working parents, crack down on fraudulent business practices, allow people to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy, make sure skilled immigrant workers can switch employers without losing their immigration status, work to reduce domestic violence, reform the criminal justice system, etc. instead of just expanding access to anxiolytic medication or pretending that therapy alone can solve all problems.

For an individual, the proper response might be to quit a job, start saying “no” to demands to work overtime, break up with an abusive partner, sit down and have a frank conversation with overly demanding parents, declare bankruptcy, take a leave of absence from college, let someone else take over maintaining the open source project, ...

> To fix the problem it would be better to address the causes of the stress instead of trying to just treat symptoms.

The effect of depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental illnesses is that they prevent you from taking steps to address the addressable issues in your life. To start exercising while depressed, to start socializing while suffering from anxiety, etc., are some of the hardest things to do. That’s why medication is typically paired with counseling - the medication prepares you to take the steps the counseling guides you into taking.

To put it another way, anxiety disorders (and depression, and ADHD, and more) take away agency. The purpose of medication is to reintroduce agency. The medication (for most people) won’t fix their problems, but it will help them fix them.

do you think that, in general, medication is successful in improving the agency of it's users?

i worry that medication harbors a reliance on drugs, and facilitates growth of a society in which drug-use is necessary to participate "normally".

if someone with ADD/ADHD has an opportunity to increase their agency, do you think that would increase their quality of life? the parent commenter suggested that mental illness (in the case of depression) might be the result of someone with healthy brain chemistry in a bad environment. but do you think that someone with healthy brain chemistry can demonstrate an attention disorder as a result of their environment, and would be more able to improve their environment through medication?

> i worry that medication harbors a reliance on drugs

It can also get you out of bed when nothing else does. Or prevent you from killing yourself when you otherwise would have. Or give you a push to take small steps to get your life together. All of these effects are valuable despite efficacy being far from 100%, there being side effects and issues with reliance.

This is the kind of thinking that CBT addresses.

Of course lowering your stress level is always a valid response, if possible.

But it is possible to handle even very stressful situations without damaging yourself with anxiety and depression. These are skills you can build up, and are very useful to have.

> ...it is when that anxiety is affects your daily life, causing you distress, or leads to depression or harm should it be concidered an anxiety disorder.

But what if your lifestyle is the cause of that anxiety / depression? I think that's what the commenter was trying to say.

Imagine working long hours in a job you hate to barely live pay check to pay check, and on top of that you're in a poor relationship. Every minute of every day is worrying about paying your next bill. You have no savings and are in debt. You haven't been on vacation in 15+ years and every time you enter your apartment, it's uncomfortable because you either fight with your partner or you ignore each other, but you stay together because you can't afford to live on your own.

On top of that your diet is garbage because poor nutritional foods are usually cheaper than healthy foods unless you're a master cook, but who has the time or energy for that with the above life style.

The above is pretty common for a lot of people. Maybe not everything happens to everyone at once, but all it takes is to be in a shitty work situation for little pay (very common) and that's enough to train your brain into thinking life is an un-escapable torture chamber.

You'd have to be crazy not to always be on edge and depressed if that was your life day in and day out.

Fortunately I'm not talking from personal experience from all of the above but I do like psychology and a number of respectful psychologists are in agreement that you can get in a very bad mental state from your life style and a lot of people have made drastic mental health improvements by removing the things that cause them daily stress.

The GP's comment merely says that your environment can have a huge detrimental impact on your mental health. In no way is that dismissive of seeking help. They even applaud the use of the 'normal' tools.

In fact, the scenario that you describe of a person exhibiting symptoms of anxiety disorder because every day is distressing is pretty much exactly the same scenario the GP is saying about a life-setup that is causing you harm.

I don't believe I meant what you think I meant. I intended to make a comment about our society creating unnecessary anxiety. I hope we look at the cause of the anxiety instead of just treating the symptoms.

I do want people to see mental health professionals if they are suffering. I fear that option isn't available to many people that need the help, so I'd like to see a societal change in the pressures we put on each other and the ways we live our lives.

Well said! I frequently have anxious feelings in my day-to-day life. If I were to share that with my peers I think they might be surprised to hear it because I come across as solid, well-grounded person. I have learned to deal with these feelings. I have learned to deal with difficult situations -- but some times I can't and I fumble. That's OK.

I wonder, at what point does such anxiety justify medication? Is there a measurable way of defining this disorder? (forgive my ignorance, I am genuinely curious). There are certainly cases where anxiety is clearly a disorder, but without a doubt it there are many cases where it is used as an excuse or a defensive mechanism, to avoid difficult situations or avoid one's own inadequacies. This kind of behavior is not good. They will refuse to challenge themselves by clutching to their excuse.

First off, sometimes life circumstances are not changeable. Second off, any therapist worth anything will help you figure out what changes you could make in your life that would help your mental health. Third off, getting relief from some severity of symptoms, through any means, does not keep one from using the information in those symptoms.

Life isn’t static either. Stress levels are normally peaking in late 20s/early 30s and then gradually declining until I think 70s?

Anyways, yeah make moves to make your life better, but generally speaking good luck to you all on the field of battle in the middle years ;-).

Well said. Anxiety is sometimes a signal that there's an underlying imbalance in your life. Just like you start tearing up when you feel sad. Crying isn't bad in that scenario.

Anxiety works similarly. You gotta start asking yourself, why am I feeling anxious? Where could my life be out of balance?

What if the anxiety seems to come from a place of the entire human society being out of balance? I pretty much think if you're not feeling anxious, you're not paying attention.

Do you think that society is more out of balance now than it was 30, 50, 70, or 100 years ago?

If so, I’ll be glib and say you haven’t paid enough attention to history :-)

To pick a random anecdote, in the past senators have been physically attacked and maimed by their colleagues on the senate floor, i.e. while at work.

Campaigns were dirtier than they are now. Politicians would accuse each other of being murderers and even cannibals. (e.g. look up the coffin bills and Andrew Jackson.)

The mainstream media printed many things that would be unacceptable today. (Jon Stewart had a good bit about this a long time ago.)

Not to mention the total war involving multiple continents that happened a couple times in the last century...

Not to say we should think that stuff will never happen again. It absolutely could. But depending on your viewpoint we’ve always been on the brink of collapse, or on the brink of greatness, etc.


Also, I don't believe that reading or watching news counts as "paying attention", especially if you're not in the position to take any action as a result (i.e. you don't work in politics, policy, etc.).

It's generally a very passive activity. The time would be better spent observing what's going on in your town/city rather than "the world". Or even just doing something constructive in your area of expertise, e.g. writing free software, etc.

Standards are higher now. We're more aware of more potential emotional triggers.

I've observed that with the Internet increasing our potential access to information by > 1000x, the adaptive emotional response to any given piece of information needs to be toned down by a factor of 1000x to maintain emotional stability. Wouldn't make me very popular at parties to say that the proper emotional response to kids getting murdered at a festival is to shrug your shoulders and say "By the numbers, your odds of getting killed in a mass shooting are still one in a million, which is less than when we were kids", but that's both a true and a rational statement to make.

Personally, I find it a little grotesque how many people share in these poor parent's horrifying tragedy. So much airtime and public eyes watching the absolute worst day of your life as a parent on national television and all over the internet. It's pretty horrible all around yet uniquely American.

What I think is worse is the contrast of how flippant people are with flu shots. We rightfully scorn anti-vaxxers, yet people aren't lining up to get their flu shot every year. 50000 people died from the flu in the U.S. alone last year. That's sixteen 9/11s, and almost as many U.S. soldiers were killed in action in the entire Vietnam war. In one flu season.

There's nothing political about the flu, nothing to be outraged about (except if you are me), no votes or money to be made by people reading and sharing it's coverage, and therefore it is buried into the footnotes far below the more profitable ad spend. Another statistic, but something that everyone could actually do something about if they walked into a CVS and got their fucking free shot.

That’s not accurate, mass shooting deaths are up:


You might like the book Lost Connections by Johann Hari. The premise of the book, from what I can remember, is a mix between yours and GP's comment. It's basically that things are being over-prescribed, such as depression if you haven't stopped grieving after a year from the death of a loved one, as well as it happening more because our basic human structures are crumbling (namely, community). I definitely want to do a reread of it and pursue some of his leads more.

I'm glad somebody mentioned this book, I was just about to reply with it myself. I'd summarize the core premise as anxiety and depression, while some people are more naturally predisposed to them, aren't things that "just happen", and it's not your brain suddenly misfiring for no reason.

Our culture has become increasingly individualized and isolated, in contrast to millions of years of evolutionary selection for tribal behavior in the great apes. Anxiety is a natural response to being separated from your tribe, since it increases your risk exposure to many things. It's not enough to just have colleagues or acquaintances, but people who actually know and care about you and will notice if you're missing or if something is wrong.

A fantastic book. I borrowed it from the library, but I think I'm going to buy my own copy.

I appreciate the TLDR in the subheading:

"Instead of coming across as nervousness or worry, anxiety in men often appears as anger, muscle aches or alcohol use—leading many men to go undiagnosed"

I wish all articles did that instead of burying the lede.

A few years back I for the first time labeled something I was feeling as “anxiety.”

It was liberating, really did change my life, I just had no idea that was what that feeling was called.

> When a man explodes in anger over something seemingly insignificant, he may appear like just a jerk. But he could be anxious.

What's in a name... Its amazing the difference a title makes. Being "a jerk" is frowned upon, its "bad" and the jerk should know better. But when its "anxiety" its met with compassion and understanding. He needs help not a stern look.

Why do we feel that the jerk has agency over his actions but the anxious man doesn't? If anything, I'd say it's the opposite: the poor titleless jerk has no option but to be like he is. The anxious one could seek treatment to reconfigure his behaviour.

This whole arbitrary divide between agency and fatalism pops up again and again. See nature/nurture, gayness, crime (compare poor vs richer perpetrators), insanity, acts committed under influence of drug etc etc. It seems like society had to decide on the age old unanswerable question of free will, and it did, arbitrarily.

In one case, someone is being a jerk because they can't control their reactions due to their anxiety disorder.

These people are likely remorseful for what they have said or done.

A true jerk is someone who is being a jerk on purpose because they don't care about others. And they don't regret their actions because they think they are justified.

Seems like an important distinction to me.

The question then becomes: Does the "true jerk" have more control over his actions, or is he bound by his personality traits just as much as the "remorseful jerk"? Can we not say that the former can't control his reactions due to their "true jerk" disorder?

>What's in a name... Its amazing the difference a title makes. Being "a jerk" is frowned upon, its "bad" and the jerk should know better. But when its "anxiety" its met with compassion and understanding. He needs help not a stern look.

Typical Cluster B shifting of blame. It's not their fault. You made them do it. They just can't help themselves.

Anxiety is a perfect cover.

It is the fundamental attribution error for the ingroup and the outgroup.


This article helped me to realize I probably should be seeking help for anxiety. I always knew I had anxious tendencies, but I didn't ever think I was just "sucking it up" until I read this.

I grew up being taught that drinking alcohol is a sin and drugs are evil and your body is sacred. Although I don't hold those beliefs myself I can't help but be manipulated by them. In actuality, I think I'm glad I was raised that way because I think I could very well have fallen into a hole of substance abuse. I've had to learn to cope with my anxiety in other ways. I tend to get very stoic and hyper-focused on problems that make me anxious. I try to use logic to find solutions or--more likely--to find a way to run away and avoid the problem. It hasn't always been easy on my marriage; fortunately I think my wife understands these emotions I have better than I do.

I don't know if this is generally true, but for myself, I think the problem has gotten worse as my family has become more and more dependent on me to survive. My wife skipped getting an education to raise a family and as I make more and more each year and our lifestyle gets more and more comfortable then I feel this pressure building up to not fail. If my 18-year-old self could see me now he would be shocked. I'm totally risk-averse, far more introverted, and far more anxious. I don't think it's totally a bad thing, it keeps me and my family protected to a degree, but like everything in life it's a sacrifice. I sacrifice some unknown quality of life to keep what I have now.

I find that sometimes I wish it would all come crashing down. That I would lose my job, lose my home, or worse. I think I fantasize about these possibilities sometimes because although they scare me I recognize that I might need an external force to change a life with too much momentum. To be clear, I'm pretty happy. I love my family, I have a decent job with fantastic coworkers, I make good money. I don't have suicidal thoughts, I'm not "healthy" but I don't abuse substances. That's all great, but somehow it isn't enough by itself. I'm just an anxious man I guess.

Judging by this thread, this seems like the norm. (Social) media makes it seem like it isn't.

I can relate to this article. I didn't know how to handle anxiety so I handled it like a man, by drinking, fighting, screaming.

Question for fellow non-Americans. Is it just me or is anxiety rarely a condition someone would describe themselves as having? I only ever hear about it in relation to Americans.

I'm sure the difference not physiological. Perhaps anxiety is just rolled under the more general heading of depression?

CBD is really working for me to curve anxiety. I’m surprised there not that many replies about it here yet.

Has anyone experienced their anxiety symptoms flare up after a strenuous workout? I know this seems fairly obvious, but I was just wondering if anyone else experiences this.


That's because as men: We aren't allowed to be a worrier, anxious, etc.

We're expected to be confident and assertive. If we aren't then we possibly suffer rejection in relationships and we get socially isolated.

Similarly, men often don't have the emotional support structures that women do.

Speaking anecdotally, women confide in their friends much more readily and about more serious topics - the kind of topic that men might take 4 drinks to get up the nerve to address. Men aren't "allowed" to be emotionally vulnerable around anyone except their most trusted confidantes, which often ends up being their girlfriend or wife. And if it's not something you feel like you can discuss with her, then it gets bottled up without an outlet.

> anyone except their most trusted confidantes,

With men, that's even an issue. There are many stories where their partner had a loss of attraction due to that. (Crappy partner..yes But for men, you really don't have that much choice)

This is a pretty good explanation of a large aspect of what falls under the concept dubbed "toxic masculinity."

With that definition we are saying that women have toxic masculinity if/when they culturally expect men to not worry or be anxious.

Which is not how I have seen anyone use the term. People who want to talk about harmful gender stereotyping and gender expectations tend to use the term "gender stereotyping" and "gender expectations". "toxic masculinity" in contrast get used when a person want to express a negative connotation targeting at men exclusively, usually with a hostile generalization of men as a demographic.

Which that term is used to describe someone. I'm talking about the expectations that others re-enforce on to people.

Those cultural expectations and societies reinforcement of them also fall under that term.

I think this illustrates quite clearly why "toxic masculinity", even when applied in a well-intentioned manner, is such a problematic term. Because the main part of the problem you're trying to describe (at least in your case) is in fact located _outside_ of the persons that appear to be described by the term.

I.e. is it the state of acting assertive, confident and not showing weakness, uncertainty or sorrow that is toxic masculinity? Because many do it mostly because they otherwise (legitimately) fear to be rejected or judged by others for it, often by heterosexual women. But the term sounds like it's a judgement on the man holding these traits, perhaps destructively. Not the world around them that expects or demands this behavior.

(Not to mention that it's very easy to conflate some of these traits with personality traits that most would consider to be good or at the very least empirically useful, regardless of gender. E.g. confidence, non-agreeableness, the ability to think on your feet and look after your own interests in a negotiation, physical strength and so on).

Wouldn't "destructive gendered behavior expectations" or something like that be both more accurate, useful and palatable?

Demanding men to not get offended over the term "toxic masculinity" is toxic masculinity.

I don’t think that’s true. Some women like extremely assertive guys, but most don’t. Acting super insecure is a turn off, but acting super confident isn’t a turn on. The “be more confident!” advice that most guys have heard really means, “don’t act super nervous and insecure, just be yourself, even if you think you’re boring.”

And to all the guys thinking, “but if I’m just myself, nobody likes me.” Well, that’s probably not true (sounds insecure actually), but even if it is, that’s either a personal growth opportunity or a sign that they’ve been talking to the wrong women.

"Don't be nervous and insecure" is exactly the message that tells men they aren't allowed to be anxious. What is insecurity except fear that your self will be judged and rejected? To "just be yourself" without being "nervous and insecure" means projecting confidence and hiding any anxiety that your self will be judged and rejected.

I.e., if you have any anxiety, hide it, deal with it internally, because showing it isn't acceptable behavior for a man.

Edit/P.S.: Now, I don't think you're 100% wrong; I think you just accidentally highlighted how difficult this is. There are different ways of expressing anxiety, and they aren't all equally off-putting. There can also be nuance in what kinds of feelings are appropriate to show to strangers versus friends and intimate partners. But it's a plain fact that many people judge men for hiding anxiety without honestly examining their own responses to it. Many people do exactly what you do, stigmatizing the appearance of anxiety on one hand while judging people for hiding it on the other.

> Some women like extremely assertive guys, but most don’t. [..] acting super confident isn’t a turn on.

The post you replied to didn't use the "extremely" or "super" adjectives.

You're right, I misread it. I'm reading my own experiences into it, but those aren't everyone's experiences. I had what I felt was crippling social anxiety in my teens and 20s (I'm in my 40s now), or at least an extremely limited and lonely high comfort zone surrounded by an unlimited discomfort zone. I felt like my whole life had been filled with people always telling me to "just be more confident" or "be more outgoing", but what does that even mean? That's not actionable advice. It was especially annoying because it's so ambiguous and unactionable, but always seemed obvious to whoever was giving me the advice.

One thing that helped me personally was realizing that in my case, "just be more confident" really meant not worrying about putting up a falsely confident front. Like, I always felt this pressure to appear confident and charming and however I wanted people to see me, but I never felt that way on the inside, especially around women I was attracted to or other people I wanted to impress. So if I didn't feel confident, the only thing I could do was at least attempt to appear confident. After all, that's what everyone kept telling me to do, or so I thought. Anyway, this pressure (probably rooted in a form of narcissism) that I subconsciously put on myself in the moment to be confident/charming/etc. was just overwhelming, to the point where it sometimes rendered me incapable of social interaction at all. It was like the part of my brain that was in the driver's seat during social interactions would just lock up sometimes and I wouldn't even know what to say. But even when it was working it was exhausting.

In hindsight, this was the source of much of my social anxiety. It was like an ass-backwards subconscious instinct to play the role of the person I wanted other people to see me as. That's never going to work, it's like scripting and acting in a role in real time, a role that you don't understand well enough to write in the first place. I could never begin to get any better socially until I really truly internalized the fact that I didn't need to pretend to be someone I wasn't when I presented myself to other people, and I should just try to be in the moment rather than anxiously observing my own behavior. But, that's probably pretty specific to me and may not even make sense to anyone else.

Also my brain parsed "confident and assertive" into "extremely confident". When I think of someone who's consciously assertive, I think of a display of confidence for its own sake. Maybe that's not what they meant though.

> super insecure is a turn off,

That was part of what I meant when you become socially isolated as a result of it.

> “Aggression tends to be more socially acceptable to many men than anxiety.”

Is this what is meant by 'toxic masculinity'

Yes, definitely part of it.

I sometimes suffer from bad and acute anxiety attacks: I carry xanax (with the md prescription so I can travel). It happens very rarely (few times per year) and only 1 max 2 pills is enough to kill it usually. Without pills it just keeps going and when it happens it is impossible to stop unless using alcohol but then it does not end soon; it can take a week or longer and the feeling drives you mad (if you do not know it, good for you; you would not wish it on your worst enemy). So I make sure I have 2-4 pills on me.

There is no underlying cause that they can find or use to ‘fix it’, although I have a specific moment when it started (20 years ago). It used to be far worse (every 2 weeks taking 2-3 days) than it is now.

I often notice someone behave a certain way (some kind of movements or suddenly being ill and having to stay home, especially when there is a stressor; it is usually that or a migraine, which also still has stigma (here?), like, just take an aspirin and get over it, by people who do not suffer from them (I do not anymore luckily)) or tell something specific that makes me wonder if they suffer from anxiety; when I talk with them it often is the case. That way I found out that many of my friends and acquaintances suffer from it even though they never told anyone or were not even sure what it was.

A few months ago I was driving with someone from my village who I told someone next to me in the plane was vomiting all the trip; she said that maybe he has that weird feeling losing control she sometimes has which leads her to stay at home and grab a bottle. I told her to go to the doctor and ask about anxiety; they sent her to the mental health dep after some tests and gave her xanax and diazepam; she now is much happier as she can stop the attacks before they become full blown. She never knew that it was anxiety and she was afraid people (including the doctor, who usually is a guy who does not really believe in this stuff; he tried to give me soothing tea before I got a signed and translated doc from my Dutch ex doctor saying what I have) would find her a whining weak person.

Of all people I know who suffer or suffered from it, including my wife and family members, noone got properly diagnosed because it seems there is a big stigma resting on this. Mostly people think they can just ‘man up’ and tell themselves it will be fine. That is often not how it works; once it really starts you just cannot stop it; no amount of meditation or positive thought or exercise helps. So you try to mask it (for yourself and others) in several ways.

If you have anything; just go see a doctor; if it is anxiety, your life will improve massively if you get proper help.

Edit: I don’t recognise the anger bit, but yes, without pills, drinking is the only thing that helps/calms down and it often makes it worse besides being unhealthy (especially as this can happen any hour, day or night, and downing a few beers at 6am is not quite, well... good, so definitely get pills and keep them on you; no drink needed ever again).

Am I the only one who feels that all the gender studies that keep being mocked ultimately have the potential (if executed properly yada yada...) to benefit cis men as much as anyone else?

lol I'll take that as a "yes you're the only one". Oh well...

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