This insightful book offers a user-friendly look at how a “good man”-“a man with fundamentally positive values who cares about his kids and his partner”-can often display bad behavior, including everything from sarcasm or criticism to nastiness, coldness and other kinds of destructive emotional withdrawal. Wexler, executive director of the Relationship Training Institute in San Diego, roots his analysis in the self-psychology theory of the “mirroring self-object,” the idea that all children in their development need “validation and acknowledgement from parental figures” who mirror back to them a sense of competence and appreciation. The bulk of the book wonderfully describes the ways that many men, as adults, “are always looking to some outside source of approval or recognition” as a way to resolve feelings of shame caused by an arrested internal sense of confidence and competence. The book’s success also hinges on two further analytical strategies by Wexler. First, while he gives a convincing look at how a man’s “reliance on women for validation” can lead to feeling emotionally out of control, Wexler never descends to placing any sort of sexist blame on moms or wives; he makes it clear that the power that women seem to have over men “is not a power that women have signed up for in the relationship contract” and that female children are equally harmed by the lack of a mirroring self-object. Second, Wexler provides numerous concrete examples of how men can identify and understand the emotional states that trigger relationship problems, as well as many ways that fathers can help establish a son’s home life as “a shame-free zone.”
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“David Wexler adroitly addresses a central problem in male-female relationships, namely the male propensity for emotional withdrawal, sarcasm, humiliation, intimidation, emotional blow-ups, and infidelity. Wonderfully empathic with men’s experiences, When Good Men Behave Badly helps men who do not wish to behave badly develop the needed emotional skills. This book will open men’s minds and hearts to a very different way to approach male-female relationships.” —Ronald F. Levant, Ed.D., ABPP, Co-Editor of A New Psychology of Men
David B. Wexler, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in San Diego specializing in the treatment of relationships in conflict and the executive director of the Relationship Training Institute. He has trained professionals internationally on his pioneering ideas for relationship development and the prevention and treatment of domestic violence. Wexler is the author of When Good Men Behave Badly and Is He Depressed or What?, and he has been featured on The Dr. Phil Show and The Today Show; in the Washington Post, O Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and Men’s Health; and on dozens of radio and TV programs throughout North America. His work helps to educate the public about relationships in conflict and conflict-resolutions strategies.
David B. Wexler, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Relationship Training Institute, an organization designed to help couples and especially men who are having problems in relationships.
His previous work includes The Adolescent Self and The PRISM Workbook.