It could be IMS not IBS that is the problem when nice men turn mean

Q: What do you call a man who is always tired, miserable and irritable?

A: Normal.

Q: How can you tell if a man has irritable male syndrome?

A: You ask him to pass the salt and he yells: “Take, take, take—that’s all you ever do!”[i]

These little zingers which appeared recently in the London Daily Mirror illustrate some important aspects of what many men, and those who must live with them, are experiencing these days. First it seems that stress has become a normal part of modern life and more and more men are taking our frustrations out on those closest to us. Second, men’s irritability, blame, and anger seem excessive and more explosive. You ask an innocent question and he jumps down your throat. What’s going on here?

We've all known a grumpy old man or two. Maybe he was the guy down the street who chased you off his lawn when you were a kid. Hollywood turned grumpy old men into comic icons in movies starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. While we sometimes laugh off the chronic crabbiness of an older friend, we're just as likely to dismiss it as an unfortunate, but inevitable, part of getting old. But as we will see, there is more to this kind of behavior than what we see on the surface and it is no joking matter for those who are experiencing it or those who must live with a chronically irritable man.

For some, this kind of irritability has come on slowly over a period of months and years. For others, it seems like someone has flipped a switch and Mr. Nice has turned into Mr. Mean. “God, it’s like he’s hormonal,” one woman told me. When I told her she wasn’t too far from the truth, she snapped back “I knew it.”

There was a time when we laughed at and ridiculed women who said they had emotional changes associated with hormonal fluctuations. Most now accept that PMS is real and can be treated. Columnist Liz Langley writing for the Orlando Weekly feels this same understanding will soon be extended to men.

“Just as men have had to concede that there’s a real, scientific reason for our moody silences and sharp behavior and it’s PMS, not RBS (raving bitch syndrome), we might be able to take comfort in the fact that they have to confront this crap, too. It might just be IMS rather than IBS (insensitive butt-hole syndrome) that makes them as dumbfounding as they can be.

Since I began my study of this subject five years ago, I have received thousands of letters from men and women describing their experiences. Over the next weeks, I will tell you more about this interesting and baffling change that so many men experience, particularly as we get older. Have you heard of the Irritable Male Syndrome? Do you know someone who is going through it? Drop me a note and let me know.

©2010 Jed Diamond

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Jed Diamond is the internationally best-selling author of seven books including Male Menopause, now translated into 17 foreign languages and his latest book, The Irritable Male Syndrome: Managing. The 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression. For over 38 years he has been a leader in the field of men's health. He is a member of the International Scientific Board of the World Congress on Men’s Health and has been on the Board of Advisors of the Men’s Health Network since its founding in 1992. His work has been featured in major newspapers throughout the United States including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. He has been featured on more than 1,000 radio and T.V. programs including The View with Barbara Walters, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, CBS, NBC, and Fox News, To Tell the Truth, Extra, Leeza, Geraldo, and Joan Rivers. He also did a nationally televised special on Male Menopause for PBS. He looks forward to your feedback. E-Mail. You can visit his website at

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