“Me Tarzan … You Jane!” Or as author John Gray PhD (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus) would put it – Martians and Venusians! Most would agree that men and women have contrasting emotional needs which is credited to human nature and, that we are culturalistically different, primarily due to our social breeding. How though, do men and women compare in terms of psychological strength? Even though men and women are distinctly unique culturally and in what each requires emotionally, our pyschological strengths are defined in large part by life’s experience which tends to render us more the same, than different.
Before the intervention of life experience, even as fetus’s, we must have some degree of psychological strength. Strength being; brute, energy, stability, stamina, vitality and so on … however you want to define strength, each person bears their own physical and psychological DNA, that was imparted to them at conception. Surely that DNA is the foundation for how we, as people will develope psychologically but it is not the sole ruler of one’s psychological destiny. Social structuring and life experience will be the deciding forces above all else.
As men and women, the subjective roads on which we travel through life must be largely factored into our psychological strengths (and weaknesses for that matter) . From the moment an infant exits the womb, he or she begins the process of being cultivated both socially and experientially. Some infants may giggle more and cry less. They may feel secure in the arms of anyone willing to coddle them therefore they’re offered constant affection. Some might cry more often and even exhibit squeamish behaviors, not content in the arms of anyone except mom who becomes tired and overwhelmed. As a result of being overwhelmed, the amount of affection she can offer her child becomes deflated. Some infants will experience little affection and some an abundance there-of. So begins life experience … paralleled with social structuring.
“Hey boy! Toughen up and stop that crying!” is what some dads might say to their male offspring rather than indulging his cries with a hug. Or “Oh sweety, did you get an owie? Come here, I’ll kiss it all better and give you a cookie! ” is typical of how many parents master the woes of their female children. It’s football, tools, and Matchbox cars for little Tommy. Baby dolls, tea parties, and an apron for little Ann. The continued demonstration of these gender specific roles during childhood is one more defining ingredient to our psychological outline. Then comes school, friends, love, and marraige. All of which are credited with the culmination of a man or woman’s psychological strengths.
With all that being said and having developed into adulthood, is Tommy, who has smashed his thumb twice with a hammer (while out in the garage renovating his 1968 Camaro) and not shedding a single tear, psychologically stronger than Ann, who is at the hospital where she’s been painfully and tearfully in labor for 17 hours? This is a typical gender specific scenario of course, but one that shows how men and women are indentical in their psychological strengths. While Tommy was good at moving past the physical pain and continuing on with his project, Ann is clearly just as strong psychologically, which she proves while enduring the pain and exhaustion of child birth.
In truth, the comparison of psychological strength would continue to show little or no difference for Tommy and Ann, or any other man vs. woman. Whether it be in regards to marriage, childcare, politics, religion, a life altering event or just good old fashion competition, men and women compare equally in their psychological strengths. Psychological strength is after-all, mind over matter … the ability to cope and, in the long run we all get through our day to day lives, as well as past the curve balls life will occasionally throw us.
I’m not saying that all men and all women are psychologically strong … or even sound. Obviously there are plenty of men and women who have mental unbalance. Some men and women will have turned to drugs. alcohol, and/or other means of coping. Some married men and women will fall to temptation and step outside the marriage. But, where does the calculation to this question sum up? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol use is more prevalent among men and, men are more likely to become alcohol dependant. On the other hand, according to Psychology Information Online, depression affects twice as many women as it does men. And as reported by MSNBC from a survey taken in 2007, forty-four percent of married men and thirty-six percent of married women admitted to having extra-marital affairs. The calculations can go on and on.
Overall, we all are just trying to survive and we (men and women alike) do it with synonymous types of psychological strength.