Sunday, 19 April 2015

Fatal Silence.

Why do so many men over forty kill themselves?

BBC News 13th April 2015

’A hundred men die a week. It is more prevalent than at any time in the last 14 years and men are four times more likely to end their own lives than women’.

Hang on, that means a man in the UK commits suicide every half hour.  Surely not!

Well I didn’t as I am writing this blog.  It did cross my mind at 44; before spending two years on Prozac, but that’s for later.

Abraham Harold Maslow was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization.  (Wikipedia)

His thesis states that there are five layers to our needs as human beings. It also tells us that the 1 to 5 order cannot be circumvented i.e. It is a progression and can only take place in the prescribed order. Even the rich and famous fall foul of the rules when they forget or believe they don’t need to, eat, sleep and breathe.

If I look at each layer in turn:

1: Biological Needs

• Breathing
• Drinking
• Eating
• Excreting
• Sleeping
• Sex

If these basic needs are not met then the body is unable to function sufficiently to consider any other needs.

Well I breathe, I don't drink enough water, eat far too much curry, bowel movements could be better, sleep is generally good and sex I discovered when abused by a babysitter aged 9.  That’s for later.

In my opinion, of one of these needs is the biggest source of violence and destruction in the world today.  Even terrorists are promised 16 virgins in heaven! That’s also for later.

2: Safety Needs

With our biological needs met,or we perceive they have been, safety needs will then take over and dominate our behaviour. While historically safety needs meant shelter and protection from danger, nowadays these needs have more to do with ones yearning for an orderly and predictable world.

Before we forget it, we live in a western society where relatively speaking our safety needs are adequately met and we are not primarily concerned with survival.

Our modern safety and security needs tend to include:

• Personal security from crime; I have been burgled eleven times (once before I had unpacked a day after moving) and three times whist in bed asleep.  We even had a babysitter sexually assaulted whist we were at the cinema. At one point last week I had two policemen standing over me as they had been advised I was about to commit a crime..  That's definitely for later.

• Financial security; How much is enough?  A question I ask myself a lot at the moment.

• Health and well being; Two knee operations, one shoulder, one ruptured achilles, a vitreous haemorrhage and more hydrocortisone than I can count.  All on my left side!  I played on the right wing for Harlequins and had six years of impact all on the left.

• Safety against accidents/illness and the adverse impacts; From the list above you can see I didn’t have a good start in the adverse impact department. Pneumonia at Christmas was a new one however.

3: Social Needs

Assuming that both needs 1 and 2 have been satisfactorily met then we can start to focus on our social needs. At this point we become social beings; friendship, intimacy, marriage and the role of a supportive and communicative family come to the forefront.

All human beings need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance and it often comes from a social grouping. You may join social groups such as clubs, office drinks, religious groups, professional organisations, sport teams.

Social beings have a need to love and be loved.  When our social needs are not met we become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety and even clinical depression. This need to belong sometimes takes over our biological and safety needs thereby putting these needs at risk of not being adequately served. Nowadays social networking sites are taking over to such an extent that youngsters are loosing the ability to socialise. Its easier to text than to talk.

Men (and I am one) often struggle to obtain a sense a truly belonging and hide their true feelings. Football, rugby, golf, cars, work, music and pub jokes create a false security. Money worries only make matters worse.

Men do not talk about their emotions, hence the title of my blog ‘Fatal Silence’.

4: Esteem Needs

We all have a need to be respected and to respect others. We all engage ourselves to gain self-esteem and self-respect and will involve ourselves in activities that give us a sense of contribution and a feeling of acceptance and self-value. This can be a profession, a sport or hobby. If we have an imbalance at this level we will lose our self-esteem and may even develop inferiority complexes. If we have low self-esteem it may search out respect from others through seeking fame, glory or even notoriety.

Imbalances in this area can manifest itself in everything from depression to self-destruction, drugs and the like. It goes part way to explain how a young man can fly a plane into a mountain!

I can resonate with many of the above.  Can you?

5: Growth Needs

It is at this point we can start to look inside ourselves and ask; what is it all about?
The wisdom of eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Chinese medicine have addressed this problem for many centuries. It is only the last hundred years that we have in western society taken notice of our needs for personal growth.

I went to Hawaii to study tantric sex, as you do.

And the point I am making is;

Are you meeting your needs or; neglecting them to meet the demands of others?

Have a good week.

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