19 Comments
Feb 19, 2023Liked by Rob Henderson

This book would be so helpful to men, of every age, to keep on their shelf, close at hand and review from time to time. Im very interested in reading the Seasons of a Woman’s Life, that you mentioned as well. I think it helps us to be more objective about our lives when we see that others are passing through the same stages and uncertainties, it’s good to feel “normal” and not judging ourselves too harshly for not having all the answers, for stumbling, making choices, both good and bad.

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Feb 19, 2023Liked by Rob Henderson

I think that one of the challenges that is probably bigger today than ever is being able to narrow down what you want to do. There's so much information out there it can be overwhelming. And I think for most people it ends up being a tradeoff, where maybe there isn't a perfect fit. It's hard to choose at that young age. Also I think that most people would prefer to be able to just do whatever, if they could, and not have some 40 hours a week job that is required. Obviously that isn't possible. But if you think about it most people have things they enjoy; watching great movies, sports, playing video games, etc. I love video games, but if you turned it into something that I had to do, 40 hours a week every week, i'd get sick of it. That's the challenge to me, is just accepting the obligation aspect of it. Because once it's an obligation and a requirement, that's when it can become onerous.

No doubt some people find something they truly enjoy, but my guess is that a majority are just doing it out of obligation and because they have to to get by and support themselves and/or a family.

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Another brilliant piece by Rob...

I particularly like: “It is crucial for both society and the individual that a man accepts the guilt and pain that often accompany this period of life. And to exercise authority and power with wisdom and compassion.”

While not fully thought out as a scholarly exposition, I want to react to how this spontaneously inspired thoughts as I went through it:

I never quite expressed to myself before why I’ve resisted a little to hearing what seems like the ego defense of “splitting” when people describe the Dark Triad as always “all bad” though consciously I can see why and agree.

It’s that in the Simon Baron-Cohen sense of the “hypermasculine brain” that the Dark Triad contains within it, pure, raw masculinity.

However, men are more than pure, raw masculinity. We have character to greater or lesser degrees and ethics, executive function and noble aspirations to benefit others not the least of which our families and offspring. (As Dr John Barry says, the Provisioner/Provider archetype in our masculinity).

But this is even more than a male archetype. It is general virtuous character available to men and women and people of all walks of life and perspectives to build.

At the risk of being overly simplistic using a model, this is my immediate gut reaction to Rob’s piece...

I find the Triune Brain model useful in analyzing any psychological postulate.

Men are not just raw masculinity (the “reptilian brain”) but they are also not just passionless but ethical, dutiful, middle-aged provisioner/provider servants of society and their dependents “higher brained.”)

To be fully integrated we need all the triune aspects: reptilian, mammalian and higher brained.

And to be utterly devoid of reptilian brained “Dark Triad” aspects of masculinity is to be incomplete and throws one into “mid life crisis” just as to be youthfully devoid of the higher brained character virtue grown with age is to be rudderless at best and dark or criminal at worst - to lack this higher brained aspect of the triune.

Missing the mammalian aspect is of course to lack friendship or love that bridge the two and cohese them, and without which it is nearly impossible to maintain developing from our vibrant juvenile selves into generative, integrated men.

Miss any of the “three brains” and we are incomplete men, and that includes the reptilian, which, without the modulation of higher brained character, the passions of youth are misdirected to that which is dark and wrong, yet without the presence of, noble adulthood lacks the passion and meaning that makes staying in the twin male-impassioning concerns of career and lasting relationships. Wherein we need roles that value us as in our full integration as much as we need them.

Thank you again, Rob, for making me rethink what I thought I knew to be true. We can always count on a new perspective from you on what we hadn’t fully explored.

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Feb 20, 2023Liked by Rob Henderson

Bravo, Rob. Well done in reading this book for yourself and thanks for reviewing it here for us.

I for one can attest that as a man in his late 40s, my life as followed, a similar trajectory thus far. I definitely hit the age 30 crisis and the mid 40s midlife crisis for a variety of reasons. The midlife crisis took me by surprise, but in the end, I’m in a stronger position and my wife and I just celebrated 25 years and had a big party. I’m self-employed, and my business is sufficient for myself and my family.

We need more forums to help each other to learn, to grow, to better raise children, and to age gracefully with unity woven throughout the generations.

Thank you for creating one such forum, Rob.

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Feb 20, 2023Liked by Rob Henderson

Apropos of this topic, you might be interested as well in Arthur Brooks' From Strength to Strength about changes in the types of intelligence people undergo in their 40s and the implications for their lives in their 50s and beyond. As one who is now in my 50s I found this book to be quite interesting. He has also given a bunch in interviews about the books which are a pretty decent substitute for reading it.

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Aha! Rob Henderson is an Old Crow, it all makes sense now. Cheers from a former 98G (it's now MOS 35P, I think).

My own favorite midlife crisis story is Moncacht-Apé's journey across North America in the 17C. It makes me think that "walkabout" could be part of our hiuman male "programming," and perhaps the 30-something male midlife crisis is a biological impetus to explore?

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Wow. Sharing this with my 24 year old son and my 45 year old husband, maybe even my 60 year old dad. Very enlightening.

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I thought of my teen son while reading this article, and found it very insightful. It goes to show we really never stop changing. We just move through different seasons in life. I hope Rob will also sum up "The Seasons of a Woman’s Life."

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I think most sentient folk know where they've been, where they're at and where they're going. Or use this book as a guide if you loose your way.

Cheers. Fool on

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Thank you for this. Any possibility you'll do a similar analysis of The Seasons of a Woman's Life?

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Also to clarify: dark triad traits modulated heavily by higher brained character virtue is no longer the dark triad, but something else...

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Rob, I find your reflections on new and vintage books 📚 both interesting and a helpful guide to my own reading goals. As a 61 year old woman-shaped societally to prioritize career-I felt the male oriented analyses had resonance to my life’s arc. I am intrigued to read both the male and female “Seasons”; I suspect many women of my cohort will relate more to the male construct, which is a rueful surmise.

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"We are expected to make major life decisions before we have the wisdom to choose wisely". As being in my early 20s, that stuck. This state of "unknowingness" can be overwhelming, directionless and, by that, sometimes meaningless. But I guess not exactly knowing what you are doing and still doing it with a somewhat sense of optimism is the way.

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I read this book and found it disappointing. I am in my late 70's and found nothing for me. He recognized that we live past 60, but had little to offer us. Being 30, I wouldn't have expected you to expound on over 60, but wonder if you are aware of anyone who perhaps finished Seasons in a Man's Life.

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The reason for Robert Johnson’s work is the mythology. The most relevant myth for female development being Psyche and Eros.

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Cayenne62 I’m sure the seasons of a woman’s life would be an adventure. I would totally team up with Rob on that. Read Robert Johnson’s book Her (and maybe sometime his book, Him) as they are good ground material for such a thing. Actually I can’t speak for Rob, sorry, he could certainly do such a thing himself, brilliant.

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