What If Toxic Masculinity Was A Mental Disorder?


I’d like to be the one woman in the world who updates her Facebook status today to say, “Not me. It didn’t happen. Nothing to report here.” However, let’s be honest, anyone who knows me knows that’s not really true.

Maybe the volume of “Me too” posts on Facebook are shocking to men. However, there’s not a woman on the planet who is surprised. But I didn’t change my Facebook status and I’ve had to do some soul searching as to why. I like myself some political discourse. I like to take a stand and get loud about it. I usually enjoy kicking up some dust more than most.

I’ve had three media requests today regarding the “Me too” protest. I’ve had clients who know my story ask me why I haven’t yet changed my status. I am struggling to answer that question for fear of sounding like I don’t stand with the women who’ve stepped forward. I do stand with them. I’ve devoted a large part of my professional career to supporting them in their healing and transformation.

The fact that every single woman I know has at a minimum been harassed, does not take into account that the vast majority of men aren’t that. This might be exclusionary politics of separation by villainizing men. That might not useful. Just short of half the population are male. If we don’t start healing men we’re never going to break this cycle.

What if toxic masculinity was a mental illness?

What if we are villainizing an entire population people who need helping and healing?
What if it were treatable with therapy or medications?

I firmly believe we can only resist so much. Finding our own power and voices is only half the battle and you can’t fight half a battle and win.

We will never dismantle the patriarchy until we heal our men.

I’m rapidly developing a theory that toxic masculinity is a mental illness that a subset of our population, specifically white males are more susceptible to. All kinds of mental diagnosis run more dominantly in certain populations.

What if these men were quite literally mentally ill and we’re blaming them for a mental disorder without even the consideration of treatment??

I’ve named it Aggressive Narcissistic Personality Disorder with Hyper Dominance Motivation

Aggressive Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others.

When power is threatened, anger is a likely emotional outcome and even likelier when dominance motivation is higher.

They actively seek the superior or dominant position in any relationship or encounter. There is a saying in the real estate business that there are three things that really matter: location, location, and…location. With aggressive personalities, there are three things that really matter regardless of the situation they’re in: position, position, and…of course, position!

They abhor submission to any entity that one might view or conceptualize as a “higher power” or authority. However, they are comfortable in power structures that support their views and beliefs.

They are fundamentally at war with anything that stands in the way of their unrestrained pursuit of their desires. That often means the rules, dictates, and expectations of society. Some will accede to or give assent to demands placed on them when it is expedient to do so, but in their heart of hearts they never truly subordinate their wills.

They are ruthlessly self-advancing, generally at the expense of others. They actively and deliberately seek to exploit and victimize others when to do so will further their own ends. Whereas the narcissist simply doesn’t consider the rights or needs of others, the aggressive character tramples the rights and needs of others to satisfy their own desires.

They have a pathological disdain for the truth. Aggressive characters don’t just disregard the truth, they’re actively at war with it. Truth is the great equalizer, and the aggressive personality always wants to maintain a position of advantage. So, they deliberately play very loose with the truth when they’re not flat out lying to con or dupe you. They don’t want you to “have their number.” That upsets the balance of power.

They lack internal “brakes.” They don’t arrest themselves when they’re on their missions. Like a rolling train with no means to stop, they exercise little control over their impulses.

Does that sound like toxic masculinity to you? If it does we’ve got some serious rethinking about how we see toxic men because the DSM 5 indicates this is a disorder that should be treated.

Maybe women aren’t the only ones who need liberating.

I’m not attempting to make excuses for abusers. I’m also not suggesting that every asshole needs to be rushed to a psych doc for meds. However, I am saying that as women, being lost in our own pain might be blinding us from seeing we aren’t the only ones who need healing.

The patriarchy is sick. A lot of men are sick. A lot of men obviously need help and that help might have to start with us.

I want to be remembered as a woman in the period of history where women collectively said, ” No more. Never again. Not to me or any other woman. ” I think we are that generation of women who have the strength to do just that.

However, there is no liberation until everyone is whole and many of our men are neither whole nor are they well. Selective compassion is not going to heal us.

If we looked at toxic masculinity as a mental illness I think we might be doing things slightly or massively differently. I think it’s worth a try.