What Makes Men Violent?

What Makes Men Violent?

When I heard about the last mass shooting in Vegas, I felt physically ill.  If the shooter was a Muslim or anything other than White, the media and politicians would label him as a terrorist.

If the shooter is White, they say that he has mental health issues.

But what has been the common denominator in 88 out of the last 91 shootings?  It is that the shooter is a male.

While most men are not violent, most of the violence is committed by men.   In fact, 90% of homicides are by men.   And it is time that we as a country start to address the underlying causes before more lives are lost!

So what makes men violent?

what makes men violent, toxic masculinity

Here are 5 causes of violent tendencies in men:

1. Testosterone.

Testosterone alone is not enough to cause violence.  But testosterone prepares the body for “challenges to one’s status.” In other words, when their status is challenged, testosterone drives the need men have for power and dominance.  Violence is one of the means some men use to feed that need.

2. Insecurity.

People who are more insecure are more likely to overreact when they have been threatened.   Similarly, if a man feels that he isn’t measuring up to societal expectations of masculinity, and his masculinity is being threatened, he is more prone to violence.

3. A thick heart wall.

Dr. Bradley Nelson, who developed the Emotion Code, has shown that with trauma, emotions can get trapped around our heart to form a heart wall.   The thicker the heart wall, the harder it is for a person to connect in an emotionally intimate way with others by being vulnerable.  It also prevents a person from feeling passion, whether it is for other people, hobbies, art or nature. It’s been shown that 93% of the population has a heart wall.

The inability to connect deeply with others, and to share their emotions leaves many men lonely and unable to process the challenges they face.  Their trauma builds, and can eventually unleash into violence if they don’t find a way to diffuse the tension.

4. Culture of toxic masculinity.

I find it interesting that men in America seem to be evolving in 2 different directions: Either they are evolving to be healthy, sensitive men, capable of talking about their emotions, or they are succumbing to the mass media-driven image of what it means to be masculine.

Unfortunately, our traditional notions of what it means to be masculine contribute to the culture of violence.   It seems that it’s still socially permissive for men to be violent.  We often dismiss their behavior with the excuse, “boys will be boys.”

But many men are showing us that violence does not have to be the norm!

The documentary “The Mask You Live In” demonstrates how men in America have been shaped to believe that they have to live up to an unhealthy standard of masculinity.  It shows how toxic it is, and offers men a healthy alternative.  This movie is having a profound effect on the men who watch it, and I believe is a fantastic start to ending toxic masculinity and the cycle of violence.

5. The presence of guns.

There is overwhelming evidence that the availability of guns increase homicides.   This recent study shows there is a clear correlation of gun ownership with violent crimes committed by firearms across states.  But also, this experiment demonstrated that the presence of guns stimulates violence.

Psychological experiments have demonstrated that the more removed we are from the violence, the psychologically easier it is to do.  Killing someone by pressing a lever, for example, is easier than shoving the person off of a bridge.

Killing someone remotely (i.e. with drones) is easier to do than if you share the same space.   And the rampage in a school by a man with a knife in China on the same day as the Sandy Hook shooting showed how much easier it is to kill a massive number of people with a gun, than a knife.

And why do men love guns so much?   Because it makes them feel powerful, and gives them a surge in testosterone.

With a greater understanding of what causes violence in men, what can we do?

We can start by spreading the world and talking about what healthy masculinity looks like.  Share the movie, ‘The Mask You Live In” with as many people as you can.   For a different, but similar perspective, read and share my article, “3 Reasons Why ‘Just Be Cool” is Bad For You.’

positive masculinity, what makes men violent, toxic masculinityLearn about the heart wall, and how releasing it can help men connect with their hearts.

Then encourage men to talk to each other about what it means to be a healthy and masculine.  There are resources to do so with the Good Men Project.

When men learn that don’t have to “man up,” and that they can be masculine, sensitive and kind and the same time, I believe our country can become a much safer and healthier place to live.

What do you think? Comment below!

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