The research performed by William Barlow Elder on the “Centerfold Syndrome” makes use of the schema framework of traditional male sexuality outlined by Gary Brooks, including 5 central aspects of male heterosexuality: voyeurism, objectification, the need for validation, trophyism, and the fear of true intimacy.  Using these concepts, William’s study addressed the question: how do heterosexual men understand their own sexual self-schemas?

The sway for this transformation can depend on accidental factors, or therapy can be a catalyst to this process.  The therapist can be the major determinant in directing how the situation unfolds and how these issues are interpreted, but only if the therapist is aware of where her or his client’s concerns are originating. 

Many of heterosexual men’s difficulties originate in this sexual distortion (Pridal, 2001), as detailed in the developmental model described at the beginning of this chapter.  Sexuality is perverted into phallocentric sexuality rather than allowed to blossom into a mode by which to establish connection not only with women, but also connection with their families, peers, and with their own bodies (Kiselica, Mule, & Haldeman, 2008). 

If we can, as therapists, help use the transformative possibilities discussed by William Barlow Elder of these life experiences, rather than cause them to fail by virtue of problematic sexual socialization, we will be able to support men who are in trouble.  The therapist who is best prepared to help men move in this direction is a gender-informed therapist (Good, Gilbert, & Scher, 1990). 

These therapists can be aware that, although men may behave otherwise, the dark side of masculinity is often a cover for deep wounds.  If a therapist lacks this awareness, she or he may unwittingly reinforce the same values (Frankel, 2004).  The therapist may treat a man’s symptoms rather than the root of these symptoms: a dysfunctional pattern of interrelating. 

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