Diarmaid Ferriter: Phallic man is alive and well

We must hear women’s testimonies now because we have underestimated how deep the abuses went

 The late Anthony Clare: his last book, “On Men: Masculinity in Crisis”, was published in 2000: he seems to have been remarkably premature in some of his pronouncements as well as being too reductive. Photograph Brenda Fitzsimons

The late Anthony Clare: his last book, “On Men: Masculinity in Crisis”, was published in 2000: he seems to have been remarkably premature in some of his pronouncements as well as being too reductive. Photograph Brenda Fitzsimons

Frequently described as “the leading psychiatrist of his generation”, Dubliner Anthony Clare died suddenly 10 years ago. The publication of his book Psychiatry in Dissent in 1976 launched his very public career and he became a mainstay in British and Irish media as well as holding senior academic posts in London and Dublin. The BBC Radio 4 programme he presented, In the Psychiatrist’s Chair, ran from 1982 to 2001 and made him famous while also ensuring he was credited with almost single-handedly demystifying psychiatry.

Clare was profoundly humane and talented and did lot of good for many of his patients but was controversial and regarded by some his peers as a “pop psychiatrist”. He also had his own crises, including his late-middle age one which resulted in the publication of his last book, On Men: Masculinity in Crisis (2000), centred on the idea that men were suffering from a crisis of identity due to the challenges to patriarchy and were being pathologised in a manner similar to how women had been negatively stereotyped for so long. The traits that make “us the men we think we are and would like to be – logical, disciplined, controlled, rational, aggressive – are now seen as the stigmata of deviance. The very traits which once marked out women as weak and inferior – emotional, spontaneous, intuitive, expressive, compassionate, empathic – are increasingly being seen as the markers of maturity and health.”

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