This attempt at a self-help book
(291 pages) offers a complex and well-documented, argument that there is a
corresponding male syndrome to women's PMS called IMS (Irritable Male
Syndrome). The author, Jed Diamond, having previously written Male Menopause,
lays a good foundation for the hormonal probability of andropause in males. The
book's relevance at first appears to be in its exposure of the male propensity
for the seemingly inappropriate and pervasive irritability in their most
intimate relationships. He explains IMS as a blue print for the male who
engages in domestic violence. Although offering insightful tidbits throughout
regarding male dysfunctionality, the book suffers from an overabundance of
understanding and rationalizing on behalf of the man who perpetually acts like
The book is divided into three parts
of four chapters each. Part I, entitled "The Problem," describes the
Irritable Male syndrome, how to recognize it, and the serious problems it
creates for men and their families. Diamond has developed genuine insights into
the subtleties and complexities of male emotions, describing IMS as being about
violence, whether emotional or physical.
Part II, "Understanding,"
basically is designed to deepen our understanding of IMS and frankly, begin to make the reader
feel sorry for the Neanderthal men who haven't been able to adjust to the 20th
In Part III, "Help is Here,"
Diamond explores what may be some of the most interesting material in the book
for contemporary mental health therapists and the women who might be reading
the book to find out what is wrong in their marriages. It explains why the guys
don't want help, are unlikely to get help, and think it must be their partner's
fault, anyway. In addition, the author speaks to the possible biological solutions
(taking testosterone) and prevention such as parents touching our male children
I found the book more depressing
than not, although the information is long in coming--ie, he acknowledged there
actually is a preponderance of men who take everything out on their wives. In
his research, he mentioned from 30 to 50 percent of men being chronically
unhappy, irritable and blaming their intimate partners for their own inability
to live life on life's terms.
On page 31, the author asks, "Why
are men so angry at women?" which is the 64 thousand dollar question for
most people who read this book. Jed Diamond's answer to the question, or rather
explanations, will give the reader very little hope for the future of men and
women. In fact, it made me sick. It appears that men need women, but are
ashamed of this need and so take it out on them. It appears the men are wired
to fight or flight while women are wired to tend and befriend and men's hard
wiring is not suitable to modern times. It appears that their hormones are
geared to dominate and when they can't dominate their peers, they pound their
"Our adult anger is related to
trauma we experience as a child." He writes, and then writes that he's
never met a violent person who didn't experience violence as a child. But
rather than explaining if it's genetic or environmental or what implications it
has--it is sort of left as a poor excuse for male pathology. Other excuses are
also offered, from the lacking manner in which males are raised, to their
sexual attraction to their daughters, to the competition of men with their
sons, to their loss of status of not being the leader of every pack, and
finally the pinnacle of rationalization -- depression which, it seems, is
caused by any situation that doesn't lead a man from diapers to dynasties laced
with riches, fame and power from babyhood up.
On the one hand, Jed Diamond tells
the reader that male irritability is similar to PMS and then gives us every
bleeping excuse in the world why the poor human male has never managed to get
his s**t together. I would love to see the reactions if people were told that
women's PMS symptoms were the result of childhood trauma, inability to adjust
from the neo-paolithic period, a sexual desire for their sons, and the fact
that they didn't inherit Jennifer Lopez's genes.
The author was brave in sharing his
own story. I found his personal sharing helpful but feel, as does he, that most
men are in denial about their inadequacies. Men don't seek help for their "male"
problems because they don't admit these problems. They blame their wives. The
book will be read by women who want to save their marriages and maybe by a few
counselors who work with domestic abuse, but for the most part, the ones who
need it, wouldn't dream of picking the book up.
And I'm not sure I want them to.
This take on male abuse directed toward their intimate partners presents the
male as a victim. Victims are powerless and need to be rescued. Men don't need
to be rescued. They need to act better. There is an old adage, you don't think
your way into good acting, you act your way into good thinking. I don't buy the
theories that all their stress, childhood traumas, and sexual longings for
their daughters are any excuse for treating the ones they love badly. They
threat them badly because they can--because the 'tend and befriend' nature of
women means that women try to make their family's lives better even if that
means allowing nasty behavior as they read books like this. As a subculture,
women collectively think that knowing why their guy isn't "loving,
honoring, and cherishing" them as they promised to do, is something the
woman is responsible for--knowing why and effecting change!
In a final absurdity of
justification for male abuse of the ones they love, Diamond writes, "The
Irritable Male Syndrome may be God's, or our daimon's, way of calling each man
back to the person only he can become." Come on, because men can't
fulfill their dreams, they take it out on the ones they love?
To the author's credit, he doesn't
suggest that women or men accept this bad behavior. He does suggest men try to
change, after they figure out it's themselves and not the rest of the world
responsible for their IMS. Diamond claims to be a solution oriented therapist
and even writes that other therapists aren't very helpful because they dwell on
the problem. The trouble with the book is that it is 95 percent problem-based
and only a few pages are devoted to the solution. I think if Jed Diamond took
his own advice and wrote a book 95 percent solution oriented and only five
percent devoted to explaining the problem, he would have a great self-help tool.
As is, the book only offers unending rationalizations, and very few solutions.
© 2005 Shelly Marshall
Shelly Marshall, B.S., CSAC is
an Adolescent Chemical Dependency Specialist and Researcher. You can visit her
sites at www.day-by-day.org and www.YouAreATarget.com