I first heard about Irritable Male Syndrome, and thought “ . . . Really?” I wondered . . . an attempt to provide a sophisticated loophole for guys to be a jerk? Here is some of what I know about Irritable Male Syndrome.
A decrease in testosterone levels, and includes hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration, anger, biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations; and stress. A key researcher was a guy in Edinburgh, Scotland: Dr. Lincoln (not to be confused with Abe). Lincoln studied the mating cycle of sheep and found that in the autumn, the rams’ testosterone levels soared, and they mated. But in Winter, testosterone levels fell and rams lost interest in sex.
Additionally, as the testosterone levels fell, rams became nervous and withdrawn, striking out irrationally. Dr. Lincoln (not to be confused with Abe) observed these changes in behavior in
a) red deer (its good to be well red), b) reindeer (Santa was oblivious to these studies and he is not happy about it, and c) Indian elephants.
So, for human guys (cool term, eh?) the symptoms of decreased testosterone are: anger and social withdrawal; irritability; hypersensitivity; anxiety; hot flashes; mood swings; depression; lack of libido; back and head aches.
Now as far as these symptoms of IMS (Irritable Male Syndrome), none of those apply to me.
So, instead of Irritable male Syndrome, maybe it is a case of Irritable MAIL Syndrome. It makes sense. So much unwanted MAIL comes in to people’s homes, that there really could be a great deal of irritation that comes from mail. I suppose the good news is that there is probably a medication regime to treat the Irritable MAIL Syndrome. Bad news is that it’s hard to keep bad news from coming to your mailbox. It’s life.
So, let’s think about the “here-and-now” issues / scenarios:
- Man … has the I.M.S., and does not know it. He is virtually oblivious to the symptoms, thinking “Hey, I’m just tired tonight …”; “Hey, I’m just a little irritable, but actually you messed up, so I have a right to be ticked off …”; or “You know what, I don’t usually get sad, but I’m feeling kind of blue.”
- Man … has gone to the Dr. because he senses something is wrong. After some tests, and checks, Man is diagnosed with Irritable Male Syndrome; and he keeps this to himself.
- Man … has been diagnosed with the Irritable Male Syndrome, and chooses to let his wife know, and his best friend.
After these three “issues / scenarios”, three themes come to mind:
- Oblivious-ness (new word?)
As men, we are called to be attentive to our world, our relationships, our families . . . NOT oblivious. At the same time when Irritable Male Syndrome hits, I believe our vulnerability to becoming oblivious intensifies … because of the stress involved. As men we are called to community, not isolation. But community is difficult for a man, especially when energy is low / frustration is high. Isolation can feel quite . . . medicinal. As men, we are called to authenticity; but authenticity takes more energy. Authenticity has a “calling” type of dynamic to it. We are called out, as men. And along the way, we get irritated, not only by our maleness, but also by our mailness.