Failed men. Depression and the dominant model of masculinity

Dariusz Galasinski

University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom


In this paper I am interested in the relationship between masculinity and depression. More specifically, I shall explore how men diagnosed with depressive episode construct themselves in gender terns and how they locate themselves in relation to the dominant model of masculinity. The data upon which the paper (anchored in the constructionist view of discourse) is based comes from 25 semi-structured interviews with men in non-residential care in two university psychiatry clinics in the south of Poland. All the informants were diagnosed with depressive episode (ICD F32 or F33).

I shall show that depression is constructed as inherently interlinked with the informants’ masculinity as well as, more generally, with the gender model itself. The illness is invariably constructed as an assault on masculinity – the social expectations of what it means to be a man, his role at work or the family. Thus, on the one hand, depression undermines masculinity and depressed men are constructed as lesser men, and, on the other, depression disturbs masculinity, making it impossible to execute it and thus for men in depression to be ‘real men’. At the same time the dominant model of masculinity is a constant point of reference and aspiration for my interlocutors.

In the process I shall not only argue that depression and its experience are gendered, but that they must be seen in relation to the socially dominant model of masculinity both in research as well as in clinical practice.

Session: Paper session
Various Topics
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 13:45-15:15
room: 13