by Michael Seabaugh


A divorced friend of mine recently told me about an adventure he
had with a woman from his high school class. “Trust me, this one
was really gorgeous,” he assured me. Their high school’s 40th
reunion was about to take place and the ethernet was buzzing with
classmates reconnecting.

“I had heard she was newly emancipated from a marriage,” my
friend said, “so I called her to see if she was going to the
reunion. It was great, talking about all the good times we had
shared. I couldn’t believe it when she asked if I’d like to meet up
and maybe rekindle a little of that magic. I told her I was a bit
older and balder than when she last saw me. She was so sweet about
it that I even admitted to going up several notches on my belt
size. She said she thought tubby bald men were cute.

“‘Anyway,’ she said, ‘I’ve put on a couple of pounds myself!’
“So I hung up on the fat bitch.”

Okay, that was a joke, one of the many that mine the rich humor
lode of the male mind. You may have even laughed when you read it,
recognizing that men aren’t from Mars, they are eternally from the
locker room.

Recently I attended a lecture at Victoria Hall by nationally
renowned adolescent psychologist Dr. Ron Taffel, who was trying to
help parents and professionals understand not the mature man-mind,
but the adolescent mind. According to him, they might not be all
that different. “I can’t remember a single thought that I thought
when I was a boy,” he admitted. “That is probably because, like
most boys, I didn’t think. Come to think of it, what three things I
did manage to think about when I was 13 were the same as when I was
in my 20s, and even older. It doesn’t change.”

The mostly female audience laughed out loud, and the men in the
audience smiled their sly smiles of recognition. Everyone relating
to Dr. Taffel’s admission were probably thinking along the lines of
what a keen female observer of the male mind once told me: Men’s
minds are simple — one-third devoted to games, another third to
business (or other transactions where there are winners and
losers), and two-thirds to sex.

“Okay, that doesn’t add up,” she allowed, “but neither do the
minds of most men.” Perhaps it is too easy to riff on the male mind
as stuck in a perpetual South Park episode. But in truth, this idea
of adolescent brains encased in aging bodies really doesn’t tell
the whole story. Many men actually manage to take on the
responsibility of families and/or make meaningful contributions to
society. Every now and then, one even becomes president.

Former president Bill Clinton, who was in town recently speaking
to a sold-out audience at the Arlington, presents an interesting
case study in this regard. Here is a man who led the free world for
eight years, who can articulate and command the most complex issues
facing our world today. And yet he jeopardized his place in history
by impulsively accepting a pizza delivery with benefits. (Sex and
high-carb food…what adolescent boy can resist that?)

At the Arlington, Clinton drew an interesting distinction
between organizing our thoughts based on ideology versus
philosophy. This past August, he spoke about this in more depth in
a speech in Seattle: “If you have a philosophy, you are inclined by
your values in a certain direction. But you are also interested in
hearing arguments and looking at facts. You actually think you
might be wrong every now and then. But if you have an ideology,
then the facts are irrelevant. The result is determined and then
you just fix the facts to fit them.”

I found this interesting because I have noticed that when men
start rounding the bend of life, they have several options as to
the route their minds can take. There is always the well-traveled
Peter Pan road (more toys, newer and shinier playmates). However,
for those who are looking to embrace their maturity, there is the
choice between two other pathways. They can choose the road of
ideologue, becoming more entrenched in their certainty (and
presumably safer behind their ideological gates). Or they can take
the philosophical path: remaining curious and open to the ongoing
mysteries of life.

As a young man, I noticed a certain kind of older man, one who
was so sure he had figured everything out and who felt he had the
right to pontificate endlessly about these certitudes. I even had a
name for them: The Gray Bearded Loons. Later, I came to understand
this kind of man-mind (both in myself and others) as a product of
fear and also as a compensation for the perceived loss of power
that often comes with the waning of testosterone.

Even back in the day, these puffed up guys always seemed brittle
and a bit foolish to me. I suppose they were trying to reestablish
their authority through wisdom. They never seemed wise to me, they
just seemed old.

Dr. Michael Seabaugh is a clinical psychologist with a practice
in Santa Barbara. Visit for more
information on the topics covered in Healthspan. He welcomes your
comments at


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.