It is very interesting because it confirms what many of us have a personal intuition about and that is that we heal faster when we are more alive.
Many of us older guys often have the discussion that "in the day" we'd sprain our ankles playing basketball one day and suit up to play two days later, hobbling a bit but getting by. But today, there are insurance agents, trainers, coaches, physical therapists, and a host of attendances that seem to all get in the way of the kid getting on his feet and toughing it out.
I've also been reading Carl Rodgers' "On Becoming a Person" lately and he talks about enlightened stages of personhood as someone who feels pain and pleasure more acutely yet in my experience the nation seems to be prescription drugged to a state of numbness that is frightening. Far from broadening the range of emotion and feeling, the slightest discomfort demands intervention.
So, for the macho guys out there (macho with a small 'm'), here's something to take comfort in.
The stereotypical “tough guy” or “real man” rarely asks for help or shows signs of weakness, because then he wouldn’t be a guy, right?...and...
While many scientists have considered these masculine tendencies to be barriers to health and recovery, a small study of about 50 men suggests the opposite. The man-of-steel mentality, often associated with military men and those in other high-risk occupations, can boost and speed up a guy’s recovery from a serious and/or traumatic injury possibly.
“It has long been assumed that men are not as concerned and don't take as good of care of their health,” said lead study author Glenn Good of the University of Missouri, Columbia, “but what we're seeing here is that the same ideas that led to their injuries may actually encourage their recovery.”
Good and bad
The study found that increased masculinity had some negative effects on the recovery of “manly men.” The participants who believed it was appropriate to hold in their emotions, be self-reliant and have power over women had less favorable views toward seeking psychological help. This “I can take care of myself” attitude could be detrimental to already injured men.
The researchers also found that men who had strongly believed in male dominance over women were less satisfied with their lives.
But, men who focused on their careers, success, power and competition reported better relations in their community. These same participants showed greater improvement a year after their hospitalization.
Perhaps, the scientists report, an inner narrative is the engine behind the boost in health. For example, a brawny boy might think, “Yeah there are tough challenges, but nothing will stop me from reaching my goal,” the scientists state in a report of this study published in a recent issue of the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity.
Even so, the resistance to psychological help concerned the scientists. “The immediate message here is to encourage psychotherapy along with traditional methods of healing,” Good said. Therapists trying to help men recover from serious injuries could encourage men's masculine tendency to seek success but discourage them from believing it's appropriate to exert power over women, he wrote.
“This study also can shed some light on what the wounded soldiers from Iraq may be facing,” Good said, in a prepared statement. “The war in Iraq is the first in which such a large number of soldiers are surviving injuries that would once have been fatal,” he said, “and we as a nation are going to be living with their care for a while.”