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Accentuating Positive Masculinity: A New Foundation for the Psychology of Boys, Men, and Masculinity (Chapter 6 of APA Handbook of Men and Masculinities).

Publication Year: 
2016
Personal Author: 
Kiselica, Mark S.
Benton-Wright, Sheila.
Englar-Carlson, Matt.
Chapter in Book
Page Count: 
21

Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, the psychological study of masculinity and the practice of gender-sensitive approaches to psychotherapy with boys and men has gradually become a specialty area within psychology. Recognizing that masculinity is a central aspect of men’s lives, psychologists began to study the male socialization process, socially prescribed notions of masculinity, and the psychological and social problems of boys and men (Englar-Carlson, 2006). Within this movement, a group of pioneering psychologists developed the gender role strain paradigm (GRSP) as a framework for the psychological study of men and masculinity (Levant, 2011). The positive psychology–positive masculinity paradigm (PPPM) is a response to the need for a positive vision of masculinity. The widespread influence of the GRSP tradition and its heavy emphasis on constricted masculinity and male-linked problems has contributed to a lack of awareness of positive notions of masculinity that are transmitted across generations and have many benefits for boys, men, their significant others, and society (Kiselica, 2011). As an alternative point of view, the PPPM is based on the basic assumptions of positive psychology, which emphasize strengths over deficits, and it accentuates noble aspects of masculinity, such as male courage and generative fatherhood (Kiselica et al., 2008). The purpose of this chapter is to propose that the PPPM serve as a new foundation for the psychology of boys, men, and masculinity and for clinical work with boys and men. We begin this chapter with a critique of the GRSP tradition, which has raised awareness of the detrimental effects of constricted masculinity on boys and men and their relationships with others but has also promoted a deficit view of boys, men, and masculinity and male development. We argue that the psychology of men and masculinity can be enhanced by infusing the central assumptions and research findings of positive psychology and the study of positive masculinity into psychological research and psychotherapy pertaining to boys, men, and masculinity. We provide an overview and critique of positive psychology and positive masculinity, and we propose future pertinent directions for practice and research. (Author abstract)

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