A psychologist interacts with "the red pill"
In the summer of 2011, I was a brand new licensed psychologist, deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. I had been in the mental health field since long before that, having started my army career right before 9-11 as a mental health specialist. Most of my patients were laden with fairly severe psychopathology. You see, I was assigned as an "area" psychologist. I was not embedded into a combat unit, responsible for the care of the soldiers in that particular unit. Rather, my mission was to provide psychological support services to the area, as needed. This meant doing anything from managing the risk of suicidal soldiers on a walk-in basis, to conducting forensic evaluations for courts martial. And yes, at the height of the troop end strength, we had fully up and running military justice courts taking on whatever legal issue came up.
That's me, getting off the plane in Kuwait, on my way home.
Cutting my baby teeth as a provider in that environment has proven to be single most useful experience of my career to date. Imagine the level of risk we had to deal with, every day. The most risky (for suicide) person on the planet is a young male, coming from a broken or non-traditional home, who has just been told his wife is cheating on/leaving him, with access to firearms. That's pretty much a clinical description of deployment. And you can't just take the weapon away. There are million more fully automatic rifles just lying around. So I honed my risk management rubric in the battlespace, giving me a pretty thick skin and big appetite for it.
I've always been a pretty dispassionate observer of natural phenomena, and I don't get rattled much by true things, no matter how uncomfortable. As a provider, this trait has proven to be a blessing as well as a burden. Because while it allows me to be more or less unfazed by risk and ambiguity, it also tends to run interference with one of the primary traits of a good therapist--namely, empathy. This is not to say that I do not experience empathy--if, by empathy we are talking about feeling the feelings of others in parallel to them. This I do. However, where the wires get crossed is when I conclude that most of what is happening to this person might have been avoided at any point along the timeline or trajectory of their lived life. (Assuming they are telling me the truth about that). Female soldiers are the ones with which I always had the least amount of connection, because although many of their problems were in fact painful for them, I always wondered "well, you did enter a profession that is dominated by super high testosterone, risk taking, alpha males. What did you think would happen?" I don't think I ever actually said that to any of them, but the internals of a psychologist are not simply brushed away while interacting with patients because of training. We are still human. It's all over my face, so to speak. I'll come back to all that though.
Fortunately, psychologists have one of the most versatile professional credentials within the larger mental health community. This is, in fact why I chose it. Therapy is a small slice of the total skill set contained in the psychologists tool bag. I have gravitated toward one-shot, one kill evaluations in the emergency, forensic as well as the compensation and pension settings for a reason. I don't have to wonder, or even care what happens after I see them. I can be as detached, precise and brutally honest about their situation as I like to be. I also like consulting on issues where social and organizational psychology converge, which is why I loved the Guantanamo Bay mission so much.
Several years before I was sitting there in Afghanistan, I met my wife Mychael, and her son. I was divorced and in graduate school. I wanted to try again. My dad once said about me (in his deadpan, stern Serbian accent), "Scott, you are the marrying kind." This was not meant as a compliment or an insult. It was just a matter of fact that needed to go out into the air. What he meant was, this is the rubric by which you will operate sexually forever. I already knew this about myself, so it was like saying to a bucket of water "water, you are the wet kind."
Red pill conventional wisdom (really dogma) says that this makes me a beta male. Because the ultimate in beta behavior is hitching yourself to one woman, and loving her and committing to her as if she is the only woman on earth for the rest of your life. Alright, fine.
My soon to be stepson, Christopher was 10 at the time, and he was very quiet, but not uninteresting. Also he had a lot of questions that I had been shoving down inside myself for years due to cognitive dissonance. One day, we sat on the couch watching his favorite show "Mythbusters" and a commercial came on. It showed a man and his wife arguing over some household chore. I think it was laundry. The wife demonstrated total mastery of the topic, including the deep knowledge it took to choose the right brand of laundry detergent. The man, was of course stupefied and showed to the audience to be a complete buffoon in the presence of his wife's brilliance and laundry doing acumen. I tuned it out because this has been the dominant view of the dynamic between husbands and wives my entire life. I even came to accept this preferred view as being "probably true," or a stereotype that had some basis in reality. I am a super smart guy who can do laundry, so it doesn't have anything to do with me anyway. But Christopher then turned to me and asked, "Scott, why are all the guys in commercials and TV stupid?"
I had no answer. Mychael was at work, so I had no reason to hold anything back. I could shoot from the hip if I wanted to. But nothing of substance came out. This 10 year old boy was having his view of men (and himself) shaped by the larger social cues around him, and I couldn't stop it. As always, I started researching the topic in the relevant peer reviewed journals. I started asking my friends and colleagues at school. They looked at me like I had three heads.
My basic, default mental framework was "right-leaning libertarian" so, in true form I concluded that this was not a big deal because freedom. I figured that if there was a market for movies and TV ads with men who aren't total retards, someone would step up and create that niche and make millions of dollars. Life overcame me and the next thing I know I am getting married, getting picked up for the army psychology scholarship, and then matching to an internship at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Right about that time, Mychael became pregnant with our first--Kenna.
That year was 2008. Barack Obama was elected president. Most of my colleagues--all military psychologist--were thrilled. We argued about taxes and "racism" and all the rest of it, but we were all part of the educated elite in this country, who really don't ever have to face the consequences of the stupid polices of the right or the left anyway. These were just academic conversations and your political affiliation really doesn't amount to more than a hobby when you are in that club.
I finished internship, residency, my dissertation and got my license. By the beginning of 2011, I was given the option of three deployments--but I had to choose one. The army wanted its half-mil worth or so that it spent to build a psychologist out of me. So, off I went to that first deployment ready to fight the terrorists (or whatever) with my M-9 in one hand and my PhD in the other.
On deployment, there is a lot of time to think about things you may have mothballed for the time being, and that stuff Christopher asked was nagging at me. So, one night I sat there in my chu and typed into a search engine "why are men always portrayed as stupid dolts or just plain evil in all the mainstream sources of media and entertainment" (or something like that). The search returned several hits, and eventually I made it to this site:
And off I went into a world that I have never been able to unsee. This was the second most powerful influence on me as a psychologist, right behind deployment itself. Not only did I find a writer who unapologetically discussed his belief in traditional forms of marriage (as a hierarchy, instead of egalitarian) but he tracked demographic and census information about marriage formation and the male-female dynamics that are the most likely proximal causes therein. He is a deeply religious and devout Christian and makes zero excuses for what the scripture teaches about how husbands and wives are supposed to behave in marriage. Commercials and TV dads are so far downstream from the kinds of things discussed on his site (and others like it) that it can actually cause you to get a little depressed at first. This is because you realize that all of the hard-fought lessons from the wisdom of the ages have been jettisoned to produce this sexual dystopia we now live in.
A lifetime of conditioning about "equality" and years of training in church as well as college and graduate school on "systems of oppression" and all the rest of it was challenged, vis a vis men and women at least, and I didn't know what to do.
I looked back and assessed my situation. I noticed that I was much more confident and self-assured as a 17 year old when I used my older brothers "chicks like assholes" method of dealing with girls. 20 years later, the deferent "m'lady what is they bidding" approach had been a disaster. Discussions about intersexual dynamics in the context of the Christian worldview were open and honest. Most of the commenters (and the host) are anonymous. No one ever holds back, even when they have a extreme outlier of a position on things. The men there range from young Christian men who cannot figure out why all they ever hear about is what it means to be a "real man" while they try their hardest to meet these bizarre double standards to men who were upstanding, well intentioned husbands and found themselves divorced anyway. Many of them have been accused of domestic violence while trying to keep their kids in their lives through a grueling divorce and custody system that favors women 85:15 in custody battles. Some of them have contemplated suicide after their wives left giving only "I am not happy anymore" as the reason. Others are in marriages that have been sexless and passionless for decades, yet they keep trying the same old things they hear in sermons at church about "happy wife, happy life" or some other book they read about "love languages" and their wives continue to look at them with contempt and never give them any sugar at all.
I won't say "suddenly everything I had wondered about made sense" because it wasn't like that. It took time. Time to undo everything I had learned about "chivalry" and the maxim that we all live under telling ALL men to defer their safety, their integrity and their honor in order make ALL women at ALL times comfortable and feel good about themselves. (See: the Titanic)
I became a voracious reader of all things old-school psychology. Going way back to remedial psych textbooks that taught the basics of human behavior, motivation, incentives, conditioning. I am still relearning that stuff.
I also made some friends through reading around that part of the internet that I have now met in real life. Men who are desperately trying to find a way to express their God given masculine traits without shame or fear of being destroyed in the workplace, their social lives, their churches or their marriages. Traits like calculated risk taking, accountability, leadership, developing and maintaining natural hierarchies, total commitment and sacrifice to a cause greater than oneself, bravery, strength, honor, and healthy competition. These are things men excel at simply because they are men.
Dalrock, after about a decade is shutting his blog down, and it may disappear forever soon. But the essence of how I approach human behavior, especially within marriage is no longer derived primarily from psychology text books, but from a guy who nobody really knows anything about. Only that he loves God, Truth and his wife and kids. His writing, and the community of men who no longer have to wonder if they are crazy will be missed.