Male self-handicapping

Submitted by freedom on
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I happened to pick up Reclaiming the Fire by Dr. Steven Berglas. I’ve not yet gotten to the portion of the book where he more fully explains self-handicapping. The notable dominant use of self-handicapping by men in comparison to women stood out. Perhaps this difference has some connection to how men use PMO and even relationships in their lives. Has anyone come across such a link?

Side note: the author uses a good vocabulary which might interst some.


I've noticed this in community.

Hi Freedom,

I've noticed that men are overwhelmingly dependent on women for almost all forms of non-sexual touch. We are making progress in the hugs department but cuddles and healing touch are still virtually uniquely mixed groups where men are present (women don't seem to be so narrow in their choice of partners).

I suspect (and have certainly run into this myself) that many men are afraid of how early childhood nurturing was inadequate to fully satisfy their (survival) needs. I have been made aware of studies that suggest that boys are handled less in early childhood than girls even when the gender of the child is mistaken. The anger that has come up in me towards both parents regarding memories of early nurturing as I heal myself has been intense and a key way I avoid it is through uncontrollable masturbation triggered by strong sexual fantasies.



Arnold - yeah that is

Arnold - yeah that is definitely an insight I have had as well. The anger that originates from the general early childhood period is a key player in what began the fascination with pornography and the gratification that it supplies to a deep part of myself. Even after long periods of time without the stimulation of viewing graphic pornography I still feel that urge to consume it when I'm "up against it". And I think that comes from not having a fulfilling childhood.

I was joking with my wife this morning that our generation grew up "pornin' and GMO cornin'". In other words - shitty diet and an overabundance of explicit sexual content.

As much as I understand

As much as I understand feeling A, action B and the links between them, perhaps it's too much of leap to imply causation? Does causation add much? Given the environments some of us grew up in, removing one over-consumption might have left a void to be filled by another. 

I'm working my way through this book. The first step to recover from

Supernova Burnout [sic] abandonment of the mythologies that have shielded your soft underbelly from self-reproach. only when people who have been driven by agendas not of their own making accept that goal attainment cannot alter their lives, will they be free to enjoy peak experiences. - p79.

Although the author uses Supernova Burnout to refer to a specific burnout, that can induce an implosion of path, that often occurs toward a high point in people's lives when they begin to feel empty or accidie, it seems to have a broader context. In the case of a child, we are explorers with many adults handing use pre-marked maps. Not only are we given goals, but they are not our own. It's a recipe for disaster. Given the widespread knowledge of alcohol abuse by successfuls (which sparked this author's interest in his research) mixed the the difficulty in obtaining alcohol as a child, children will self-handicap with what is available: food, TV, internet, porn. The distinction I see is that the alcohol abusing successful gets an out while going down in flames. I don't recall kids saying I watched porn all night so I failed the test. Perhaps the handicapping need only be internal. That's not yet clear. The patterns this establishes in childhood suggest to me that burnout might be happening to those much younger than the author implies.

Internal Self Handicapping.

Hi Freedom,

Yes, this fits my story very well. I did well in academics, but self-handicapped very thoroughly in social relations. This turned (much later) into a major health problem with strong suicidal tendencies. I have never had any traditional addictions. I've never been drunk to the point of throwing up or even getting a hang-over. Two drinks used to be my maximum even during my university years. I don't recall drinking at all in High School. My last recent drink was 10 years ago (my gut can't handle it). I've taken no illegal drugs with the exception of one puff from a joint a friend gave me when I was in my early '40s (I hated it). Use of alcohol in my birth family wasn't problematic for them and there was no use of illegal drugs at all of which I am aware. Even work wasn't overdone.

I "burned out" from the traditional "get a job, find a wife, make kids" routine early. I just managed to force myself to finish my degree, pondered my lack of interest in mainstream work and then dove into the world of meditation with gusto. I was 23. At that time, it was still very unusual and suspect particularly since my preferred source of inspiration was (and still is) Osho.

The effects of childhood abuse fit my history much more closely and are strongly tied to institutions (marriage, church, military) that have strong roots in our culture to this day.

Finding ways out of this form of self-handicapping has proven challenging for me. There isn't much in the way of social support.

I hope this helps.




Hi Keygrove,

Porn didn't occupy a huge part of my life. I certainly dabbled in it but was too ashamed and frightened to get addicted to it. I was born before even personal computers were known. The big innovation in my high school years was a Texas Instruments calculator! I did, however, become severely addicted to suppressing feelings of sexual attraction in me. That had a massively destructive impact on the relationship to the one woman I pursued with all I had. It has also had a very hurtful effect on my immune system and my physical health. I guess we all find are own ways to self destruct. Finding ways to stop it and heal are crucial to me.