The Cowboy Mentality: Unpacking the Impact on Men’s Mental Health, According To Studies

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Ever heard of the ‘cowboy mentality’ and its impact on men’s emotional well-being? Today, let’s dive into a fascinating discussion about masculinity and loneliness

What Is A Cowboy Mentality Exactly?

A “cowboy mentality” that encourages men to suppress their emotions and avoid seeking help may be contributing to the escalating suicide rates among men, according to Professor Niobe Way of New York University.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Professor Way discussed the growing issue of male loneliness and its potential link to the prevailing concept of American masculinity.

Professor Way, known for her work on boys’ friendships and connections, highlighted that many boys are raised with the notion of self-reliance and independence.

It is often reinforced by paternal expectations for them to “man up” and avoid appearing vulnerable. She described this approach as the “cowboy mentality,” where the idea of seeking assistance is associated with femininity.

She added that women frequently find themselves in the role of emotional support for their husbands, a responsibility that some are growing weary of shouldering.

Mark Greene, the founder of Remaking Manhood, an organization that helps improve men’s professional relationships, echoed these concerns, attributing them to societal pressures that discourage emotional expression in boys.

He pointed out that boys who express emotions or seek connection are often met with derogatory labels like “sissy” or “gay.” This, he argued, pushes boys to prioritize dominance and competitiveness, fostering a constant state of competition and anxiety among men.

Both Way and Greene’s observations align with the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2019 guidelines, which suggested that traditional masculinity, characterized by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression, can have harmful consequences.

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy also emphasized the gravity of the loneliness epidemic in May, stating that loneliness has profound health implications, including a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, and premature death.

He likened loneliness to a biological signal akin to hunger or thirst, signifying a fundamental human need for social connection.

In sum, experts and professionals in the field suggest that reevaluating traditional notions of masculinity and encouraging men to seek emotional support and connection is essential to address the escalating issue of male loneliness and its associated negative consequences.

Share your thoughts on having a cowboy mentality in the comments below!


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