Orthodox Masculinity – What are little boys made of? – (Part 1)

Sex, the state of being male or female begins in the womb. You may be surprised to learn that we all start out as female; all foetal genitalia are the same and are phenotypically female. After approximately 6 to 7 weeks changes occur in some foetuses, a Y chromosome induces changes that result in the development of the testes.

We are born either female or male, determined by our genitaler. From the moment we are born, most of us are bought up by our parents in a way that confirms to the traditional or general accepted rules or beliefs that our parents have on how boys and girls should be bought up. Our parent’s views on what this looks like and what shape this takes is largely based on how they were bought up which would have been determined by their parents traditional or general accepted rules or beliefs.

“What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy-dogs tails, That’s what little boys are made of. What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice, That’s what little girls are made of.”
A popular nursery rhyme, remembered from my child hood.

Author thought to be Robert Southey (1774-1843)

On a course I attended just before lockdown we were shown a short video. The setting was a nursery, the children were at a guess around 2. The boys were dressed in “girls” clothes and the girls were dressed in “boys” clothes. The research involved the observation of Male and Female Nursery workers, who were unaware of the clothes switch, on how they interacted with the children and which toys they chose for the children to play with.

A large selection of toys were available to choose from, ranging from dolls, soft toys, puzzles, cars etc. After the observational research, the nursery workers were then interviewed. During the interviews they were made aware of the clothes switch and were surprised and shocked at how unwittingly and unconsciously each and every one of them had given the girls what they considered to be “girls” toys, dolls for example, and the boys what they considered to be “boys” toys, for example, cars and puzzles.

I am citing this as an example that demonstrates how behaviours and attitudes around gender are so very entrenched in each and every one of us and how unaware we are of this. This unconscious behaviour has an impact on how the society we live in is structured and set up which perpetuates our views, behaviours and attitudes around Gender. Or perhaps the reverse is true, we, each and every one of us mirror societies behaviour and attitude towards gender through our parenting and generally accepted rules and beliefs around Gender and this perpetuates our very entrenched views.
It’s okay for women to be emotional because it’s a Feminine Condition!!

Emotions are a Human Condition. Emotions are not a feminine condition. Who perpetuates the belief that emotions are a feminine condition? Men? Women? Or perhaps both Genders collude with this belief.

Research, literature and professional opinion, including mine based on my therapeutic work with male clients on a one to one basis and within the context of couple therapy work argues/has found that most men find it hard to have their needs/emotional needs met in relationship.

There appears to be a strong relationship between orthodox masculinity and the rejection of needs. Most men I have worked with have learnt from their fathers/role models that “real men” are able to meet their own needs, some have learnt that their needs are unimportant, some have not even considered what their needs might be. When men find themselves in a therapy room, it may be the first time they have felt able to give themselves permission to explore their needs and what they might be.

By not knowing and not being able to name what these needs are can have a detrimental effect on a man’s mental wellbeing and can cause difficulties in the relationship they have with themselves and in their intimate relationships. For example, they may withdraw or shut out their partners when the going gets tough ignoring their needs, because “real man” don’t have needs, don’t need help, can “fix” it themselves because that’s what “real men” do. As said above, this way of being and thinking is perpetuated by learnt and mirrored behaviour from; fathers, other men, society, mothers, wives and partners etc.

When a man decides to embark on a course of therapy, they are asking for help. To seek help, as explained above, for most men isn’t an easy thing to do and when they enter my room, I am aware of how vulnerable they may feel because “Real men” don’t need therapy.

Instead of seeing therapy as a courageous step, which it is, (Those who are in therapy know that it is) they are more than likely feeling ashamed at ending up in a therapy room. Some men unwittingly hide behind anger and frustration when they are feeling ashamed and vulnerable and may present in my room as very angry men. I will expand on this and explore this in further detail in part two of this article which will follow within the next week or two.

Dear Prudence – Covid 19 – Lockdown week 6

Have you ever woken up with a song in your head, that you unconsciously hum all day? Yesterday and today I woke up and found myself humming “Dear Prudence “ a song I have always associated with Siouxsie and the Banshees, having google researched the song, I have since discovered it’s a Beatles song written by John Lennon. (sincere apologise to Beatles fans!!) Have you ever wondered and reflected on why a particular song has entered your Psyche? I do and invite you to do the same, if it happens to you. So why has “Dear Prudence”, a song stored in my preconscious suddenly entered my conscious, a song I have not played or heard for years.

I will write a more detailed article about the preconscious and the conscious another time, but for the purpose of this article I am referring to the preconscious as a place in the psyche where thoughts, in this instance, a song, is readily accessible but not being actively thought about enters my conscious. I’m now actively remembering the song, reflecting on the words and am curious as to why, what triggered its move from my preconscious to my conscious.

So I download it from Spotify and play it a few times and listen to the words. And to me it sounds as if Prudence has shut herself away and shut down, her friends are trying to reach out to her and their words are going unheard. Someone having a breakdown and or someone who has experienced a traumatic event may present in this way when seeking therapeutic work. Sometimes clients need to fall apart in order to rebuild, recover and heal. To support a client at this point in their lives, to support them as they navigate their way through, heal and recover is normally long term work and can be very humbling for a therapist and very rewarding. I google researched the story behind the song to discover that the song was based on a true event inspired by a young women named Prudence who had shut herself away and couldn’t be reached by her friends.

Source Wikipedia

“Dear Prudence…Written in Rishikesh during the groups trip to India in early 1968, it was inspired by Prudence Farrow, who became obsessive about meditating while practising with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Her designated partners on the meditation course, Lennon and George Harrison, attempted to coax Farrow out of her seclusion, which led to Lennon writing the song”

Lockdown – week 6, how are you all doing? What’s your mood like? Your energy levels? What are you reflecting on and thinking about? I am still humming “Dear Prudence” now a quote from Winnie The Poo moves from my preconscious to the conscious and I am very curious about the connection between the quote and the song “Dear Prudence” and wonder if either have been triggered by me being in week 6 of lockdown.


“How does one become a butterfly? Pooh asked pensively. “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a Caterpillar”, Piglet replied.

Does Prudence go into her cocoon, break apart and emerge as a butterfly? what transformations are each of us going through in lockdown as everything we knew breaks down or shuts down around us. What’s our knew normal going to look like? How many of us are holding on to what we knew and are hoping for things to go back to that, preferring to stay in our cocoons and how many of us are going to
emerge transformed, moving from cocoon to butterfly hoping for something knew, ready to fly off into the unknown.

“Dear Prudence, wont you come out to play? Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day. The sun is up, the sky is blue. Its beautiful and so are you. Dear Prudence, wont you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, open up your eyes. Dear Prudence, see the sunny skies. The wind is low, the birds will sing that you are part of everything. Dear Prudence, wont you open your eyes?
Look around, round, round round……..”

Iron john

Iron John By Robert Bly

Robert Bly writes that it is clear to men that the images of adult manhood given by popular culture are worn out, that a man can no longer depend on them. Iron John searches for a new vision of what a man is or could be, drawing on psychology, anthropology, mythology, folklore and legend. Robert Bly looks at the importance of the Wild Man (reminiscent of the Wild Woman in Women Who Run With the Wolves), who he compares to a Zen priest, a shaman or a woodman.

You Are More Than A Bod

You Are More Than A Body by Marisa Donnelly

I am currently working on pulling together material, thoughts and meditations that I will post on my site soon that can support you with “Body and Breath work” and have been reflecting on how we are so much more than our bodies, thoughts, feelings and emotions and came across this beautiful poem by Marisa Donnelly. We all have a cognitive, emotional, physical and spiritual side. Depending on your philosophical beliefs this spiritual side is sometimes referred to as the Soul.

You Are More Than A Body

You are cells and synapses, fibres and fascia, brains and biceps.

You are the hands you have held, sweaty and delicate against the creases of your palms. You are the eyes that have made someone else fall in love.

You are the legs that have kicked and the toe nails that have been painted pink and orange and green. You are the strands of hair that fall into your face and you are the wrinkles below your eyelids.

You are the mountains you have climbed, the skinned knees your momma has bandaged, the runny noses you have wiped on the corner of your shirtsleeve, and the mouths you have kissed.

But you are so much more.

You are so much more than a body, created and capable, futile and flawed. You are more than the muscles that line your legs or the fat around your tummy. You are more than the calories burned or the bones that have been broken. You are more than the hands that have touched you, the lips that brushed your collarbone.

You have more to offer this world than your skin and your limbs. Who you are will never be solely defined by your body. You are so much more.

You are the thoughts you have created, the minds you have blessed. You are the feelings you have given others by your words and actions, by your presence.

You are the universes you’ve discovered in the turns and twists of your brain. You are the laughter, the voice that fills the air. You are the memories, the love you have shared, the happiness you have bought to life because of who you are.

This is not because of a body. This is because of a soul. Your soul.

You are more than a body. More than flesh and fingernails, creaks and creases, weight and wrinkles and imperfections that seem to stare back at you in the mirror.

You are more than what you see, even more than what the world sees sometimes. You are light, an energy, a ray of sunshine. Soul.

Women Who Run With The Wolves

Women Who Run With The Wolves By Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Within every woman there lives a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is the Wild Woman, who represents the instinctual nature of women. But she is an endangered species. In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Dr. Estés unfolds rich intercultural myths, fairy tales, and stories, many from her own family, in order to help women reconnect with the fierce, healthy, visionary attributes of this instinctual nature. Through the stories and commentaries in this remarkable book, we retrieve, examine, love, and understand the Wild Woman and hold her against our deep psyches as one who is both magic and medicine. Dr. Estés has created a new lexicon for describing the female psyche. Fertile and life-giving, it is a psychology of women in the truest sense, a knowing of the soul.

Healing Candles

Reflections April 2020 – I feel Gratitude

Its quieter outside, less traffic, less people, no planes in the sky.

This year the birds songs are clearer and louder, as is the insects buzz and hum. And this year I notice more bees dancing in and around the blossom and flowers in the field and in the park.

And I feel gratitude.

I queue to get into the shop, the queue snakes around the car park, everyone stands two metres apart, despite the odd joke and chirpy banter the energy that engulfs me is that of fear and distress and I long for the sanctuary of my home.

I refill the larder and the fridge is well stocked, I am healthy and I am well.

And I feel gratitude.

Online Therapy

Online Counselling Service

These are unprecedented times and in order to continue to support my community and extend that support to the wider community my counselling practice needed to evolve and grow.

I have been working in Mental Health for nearly two decades and have taught trainee counsellors. I am a very experienced, highly qualified, psychotherapist/counsellor who has been running a highly successful, established, private couple therapy and one to one counselling practice in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, for over 10 years.

On the occasions face to face clients have been unable, for various reasons to get to my practice in Bishops Stortford, therapeutic support has been provided online, via Skype, WhatsApp and Zoom. Until face to face work becomes viable again all therapeutic services will now be offered online. For those of you who are unsure if online therapy is a medium that would work for you, 30-minute online sessions are being offered to enable you to get a feel if it would. These sessions are available on Thursdays from 2pm. If demand dictates this service will be expanded.

Until face to face work becomes viable, all therapeutic services, one to one and couple therapy, will be available online. Counselling will have a critical role to play during this Pandemic, it can support you to process changing work and family circumstances, financial insecurity, isolation, grief, loss, anxiety, Coronavirus anxiety, uncertainty and trauma. Being on the Coronavirus frontline will leave some feeling very traumatised. Therapy can support you with this.

I feel very fortunate to have access to the technology that I need in order to continue to support and serve my local and wider community during these extraordinary, challenging times. I have a new website through which you can book appointments online and make payments through a secure Worldpay payment gateway. Concession rates are available, please ask, if eligible, I will provide you with a concession code to apply at checkout.

We have provided links below that you can click on, which will direct you to instructions on how to install Skype, WhatsApp and Zoom.




Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen

For those of you who struggle with the perfectionist in you perhaps reflect on Leonard Cohens wise words when he writes “Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. Thats how the light gets in.”

The birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
Has passed away
Or what is yet to be
Yeah the wars they will
Be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
Bought and sold
And bought again
The dove is never freeRing the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets inWe asked for signs
The signs were sent
The birth betrayed
The marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
Of every government
Signs for all to seeI can’t run no more
With that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers out loud
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
A thundercloud
And they’re going to hear from meRing the bells that still can ringForget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets inYou can add up the parts
You won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march
There is no drum
Every heart, every heart to love will come
But like a refugeeRing the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in
Ring the bells that still can ring (ring the bells that still can ring)
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in


Orthodox Masculinity – What are little boys made of? – (Part 1)

Sex, the state of being male or female begins in the womb. You may be surprised to learn that we all start out as female; …

Dear Prudence – Covid 19 – Lockdown week 6

Have you ever woken up with a song in your head, that you unconsciously hum all day? Yesterday and today I woke up and found …

Iron john

Iron John By Robert Bly

Robert Bly writes that it is clear to men that the images of adult manhood given by popular culture are worn out, that a …