By Dr. Christopher Kilmartin
Scene one: an 8 year old child comes home from school and says, “The other kids are picking on me.” The parent responds with, “I’m so sorry, honey. Does it make you feel sad?”
Scene two: another 8 year old child comes home from school and says, “The other kids are picking on me.” The parent responds with, “Well, what are you going to do about it?”
You might have guessed that the child in the first scene is a girl; the second a boy. Parents and other adults tend to socialize girls to take the inward journey – to spend time thinking about how they feel. Boys are socialized toward the world of action—to solve the problem.
In the extreme, both can be problematic. The tendency for women to “ruminate”—to dwell on feelings passively, is thought to be responsible for doubling their risk of depression compared with men. Men, however, have at least double the risk for substance abuse and four times the risk for suicide. [Read more…]