The Impact of Critical Men's Studies on the Concept of Depression

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:20
Location: Hörsaal 6B P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Silvia KRUMM, Ulm University, Germany
The prevalence of depression in women is twice the rate in men while men have much higher suicide rates. It is assumed that this ´gender paradox in depression´ (Möller-Leimkühler 2008) is related to the fact that gender-specific factors are not adequately taken into account in the treatment of depressed men. From a sociological viewpoint, critical men studies are a promising approach to review the “gender dimensions of depression”.

Connell’s (1995) seminal work on ‘hegemonic masculinities’ provides a social constructionist framework for the understanding of depression among men. ‘Hegemonic masculinities’ is defined as a socially accepted and normative form of masculinity in a given historical setting which structures and legitimates hierarchical gender relations between men and women and in relation to subordinated and/or marginalized men (Messerschmid 2012). Men’s mental health behavior, including denying vulnerability, reluctant help-seeking and self-management of depression, could be assessed as practices of avoidance of depression as a “female disease” in line with the ideals of hegemonic masculinity (Courtenay 2000).

At the basis of the results of a meta-ethnography I will present some empirical findings on men’s subjective perspectives on depression. Also, I will introduce the fruitfulness of the concept of "hegemonic masculinities” for the interpretation of men’s mental health behavior. Finally, the impact of critical men’s studies on our understanding of “male depression” as well as some clinical implications will be discussed.