HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Strong and Silent: Men, Masculinity, and Self-injury

Article

This article examines why male self-injury is seen to be invisible and how traditional notions of masculinity can impact help-seeking behaviours amongst the male population.

Abstract

Self-injury is commonly reported to be primarily a female experience and rare among males. However, contemporary research suggests that this may not be the case and that male self-injury may be equally common but less recognized. I suggest that the invisibility of male self-injury results from the structures of normative gender that define ''mental illness,'' vulnerability, and distress behaviors through traditional masculinity and femininity. These structures impede the recognition of male self-injury and mitigate against the provision of appropriate support and male help-seeking. In this article, I focus in depth on the experiences of three men who participated in a smallscale qualitative research project exploring self-injury from a participant-centered ethos. This provides a step toward redressing the silence regarding male self-injury and exploring the issues that emerge from attending to male experiences. It also highlights the need for further gender sensitive research, theory, and practice.

Full Reference

Strong and Silent: Men, Masculinity & Self-Injury (in Men and Masculinities 17(1): 3-21)