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The Irritable Male Syndrome: Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression    by Jed Diamond order for
Irritable Male Syndrome
by Jed Diamond
Order:  USA  Can
Rodale, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

There's a lot said in our culture about menopausal women, but (aside from the movie, Grumpy Old Men) little about their crotchety aging spouses. Psychotherapist Jed Diamond, author of Male Menopause, takes a comprehensive look at The Irritable Male Syndrome - at all ages, but especially in midlife and adolescence. He includes questionnaires on IMS and depression, as well as tools, like a 'Thought Record', that can help.

The book begins discussion of 'The Problem' with comedian Elayne Boosler's 'When women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country.' I find that both funny and not. Diamond defines 'Irritable Male Syndrome' as 'A state of hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration, and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and loss of male identity.' He describes his own, and his father's, experiences with the condition, and includes many statements from sufferers and their families through the book, each case study followed by his analysis. He talks about the syndrome's relationship to depression (and to creativity), and its manifestation in hostility, and sometimes violence. And he discusses how to tell the difference between IMS in young males and normal teen angst.

There's a discussion of men's 'unique dependency on women', and the 'love/hate dynamic' that results and feeds anger at certain times of life. Those with the syndrome can act out with criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling, or act in through depression, or self-medicating with alcohol. The examples of real situations bring home how difficult this can be to live with, for all members of a household, not just the immediate partner. In the middle of the book, Diamond goes into threats to the male of the species in modern society, from the possibility of cloning to schools leaving boys behind (this part seemed like quite a stretch from the main topic, though these kind of perceptions might contribute to stress for some men). The role of hormones is explained, with fascinating new information on the frequency of men's hormonal cycles, and the fact that winning or losing spikes testosterone levels up or down.

The last third of the book discusses how to deal with the problem (starting with dealing with denial), what a partner can do, and how we can help adolescents experiencing IMS. The author explains why he's against circumcision, discusses diet and exercise choices that can help with IMS, and goes into pros and cons of testosterone replacement. He strongly recommends keeping dads connected, and talks about finding one's true passion later in life, moving from 'aging to saging', mentoring, practicing 'Nonviolent Communication', and finding one's 'place and time'. Whether you may have IMS yourself, or are close to someone who exhibits the symptoms, you'll find The Irritable Male Syndrome an invaluable source of understanding, and of hope for relief.

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