APA Guidelines Warn of "Traditional Masculinity" Labeling it "Harmful"

toxic masculinity labeled as harmful by the APA

The American Psychological Association issued its first warning against "toxic masculinity," calling behaviors associated with it like "stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression" harmful and limiting to a man's psychological development.

The warning by the APA was published in January's issue of Monitor on Psychology. Titled "Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Boys and Men" the report is part of an effort by the association to help practitioners care for their male patients "despite social forces that can harm mental health." 

The APA defines "masculinity ideology" as a "particular constellation of standards that have held sway over large segments of the population, including: anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure risk and violence."

“Traditional masculinity ideology has been shown to limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict and negatively influence mental health and physical health,” according to the 36-page report that cited more than 40 years of research on the topic. 

The APA says forcing young men to conform to the norms of the "masculinity ideology" can result in the males suppressing emotions and masking distress while engaging more often in risk-taking and aggressive behaviors. 

"Despite these problems, many boys and men do not receive the help they need," the report said. 

A slew of statistics support the APA's report. One example cited by the article is the fact that while men are 4 times more likely to die of suicide than women, men are far less likely to be diagnosed with internalizing disorders." 

"The main thrust of the subsequent research is that traditional masculinity – marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression – is, on the whole, harmful," the organization said in a news release.

That means masculine boys are more likely to devote their energy toward "disruptive behaviors" like homophobia, bullying and even sexual harassment. 

It's not all bad news for men. Research from the APA suggests that men who embrace the positive aspects of traditional masculinity, like leadership and courage. 

"Research suggests that socialization practices that teach boys from an early age to be self-reliant, strong, and to minimize and manage their problems on their own yield adult men who are less willing to seek mental health treatment"

Photo: Getty Images

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