Chiropractic and the Male Psyche
by Harlan Sparer, DC
No doubt about it, men process information and feelings differently than women. I believe some of the reason is hardwired and biological, while some is based on how we are brought up in Western society. Regardless of the reasoning, the way men process their feelings can become problematic when a man’s health is compromised.
Essentially, a man with the same set of symptoms as a woman is far more likely to ignore them. Sometimes it’s that he feels he needs to “suck it up and be a man about it.” Sometimes it’s a sacrifice kind of thing, for the benefit of family or others. Sometimes it’s the physical challenge of endurance. The bottom line is it’s harder for a man to accept and deal with a physical challenge, let alone seek and receive help for it.
This complicates attaining and maintaining wellness. When a person first begins to experience “dis-ease,” the body, mind and spirit begin to supply subtle hints that something is wrong. Sometimes it is a slight pain that comes and goes. On other occasions it is an emotional or spiritual malaise. The tendency is to ignore these first messages and try to push through the symptoms and/or feelings.
While it seems that there is no apparent urgency to immediately address the issue and detect the cause of the problem, men will typically try and wall off the symptoms with a pill or nosode and not search for cause in the early symptomatic stages of a problem. The body’s response is to try and accommodate and compensate for the imbalance. The cause however, has not been addressed, so the problem will continue its insidious degenerative chronic aspect. The cause insidiously continues to fester, until the moment when the problem area is directly insulted again. Now the problem is beyond walling off and must be treated. The physical, mental, and emotional cost has radically increased and treatment is far more complex.
Let me illustrate by an imaginary example. Joe Shmoe is out in the garden digging a hole to plant a tree. He is in his late 30s and has to use a pick on some hard dirt. His back is stiff for a few days, but he takes some ibuprofen and after a few days of stiffness his back feels tolerably better but never quite right. One night, years later, he is lifting his son out of the crib while he’s exhausted and is in incredible pain for what seems like an inexplicable reason. His original problem has become a nightmare and will take much longer to mend, with competent chiropractic care.
Thirty years of practice has taught me a few tidbits about patient and personal management, which is the key to prevention in this kind of all too frequent case. Education and attitude adjustment are the keys to preventative care. Listening to the body when it tells us something is how we can honor ourselves and our loved ones, so we can continue to provide for them in the best way possible. Being attentive to comments by those around us can clue us in to what we have been walling off. Often, others will notice that something is off and tell us. We should listen more effectively. Having a trustworthy chiropractor check out your well being on occasion is a great tool as well. Many of us provide free consultations, which can provide the opportunity to learn if the problem can be helped. Sadly, we were never provided with an owner’s manual for our bodies. We need to learn to rely on our friends and family more for insight and be willing to seek help from others who have studied and have perspective.