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Monday, February 9, 2009

Midlife, men, hormones


Irritable Male Syndrome: Bah, humbug

Attention, grumpy men (and the mates who cope with them): Instead of your own, selfish, short-fused nature, you can blame it on Irritable Male Syndrome.

The term rocketed — annoyingly — up Google Trends’ list of hottest searches Tuesday.

Yet, upon investigation, the self-help book bearing that title has been out some four years, claiming that getting crabby is a natural aspect of the male condition, not dissimilar to PMS in women, the author says.

Even more nettlesome: the morning TV connection. It leaped back into the Zeitgeist simply due to an appearance on Tuesday’s CBS “Early Show” by “The Irritable Male Syndrome” author Jed Diamond.

Diamond saw a spike in Web-site traffic Tuesday, he says, as happened after earlier appearances on NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning, America” and “The View.”

“Just after the show, 10,000 people came to my Web site,” to take the Irritable Male Syndrome quiz, says Diamond (l.), who has a psychotherapy Irritablemale_2 practice in Willets, Calif., in Mendocino County, north of San Francisco.

It’s an idea that continues to resonate with people.

“Male depression is often experienced as irritability, anger, acting out, rather than acting in,” says Diamond, 64, who also wrote a related best-seller, 1998’s “Male Menopause.” “I liken it to PMS in women, where hormonal changes create these in some cases emotional symptoms. For the most part, it’s real. They don’t particularly want to be irritable and angry and hostile.”

His culprits in Irritable Male Syndrome: hormonal and brain-chemistry changes in puberty and middle age, stress, and uncertainty about male identity. Treatment includes recognition and communication.

It would also help if the author didn’t tell you he named a condition that might, in certain circumstances, apply to you after a trait first identified in Scottish rams. Talk about irritating.

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Originally posted: October 15, 2008