The Irritable Male Syndrome: A Multi-Dimensional Problem in Life

IMS is a multi-dimensional problem that affects and is affected by hormonal, physical, psychological, emotional, interpersonal, economic, social, sexual, and spiritual changes. One of the reasons it is so difficult to understand and deal with is its complexity. In our 21st century world of high technology and specialization we tend to see problems in either or terms.

It’s either physical or psychological; biological or social; personal or interpersonal. The result is we go to one specialist to treat our heart, a different one to take care of our psyches, and still a third to deal with physical pain. No one deals with the whole person, much less the person in the context of his family, community, and social environment. We are learning about the very nature of life, how the genes lay the foundation for who and what we are. But we seem to be losing the larger picture of what it means to be a healthy human being.

Who do we go to see about the increasing stress in our lives? Where do we learn about andropause (male menopause) and the changes in men as we age? How do we find out about the hormonal tides that affect males at all ages? What do we do when our problems are larger than can be understood by looking at our own lives? We are social beings and can’t be understood apart from our mates, our parents, our children, our friends, our communities, the world we live in, and our view of the spiritual world beyond.

In trying to describe something that is new, it is difficult to come up with a short, accurate, and useful definition. In some sense this whole book is my attempt to define what I mean by Irritable Male Syndrome. What follows is my current definition. I expect it will change through time as we gather more information and conduct further research:

Definition of the Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS): A state of hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration, and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and loss of male identity.

Whereas feelings like anger, anxiety, and frustration can occur quickly and end quickly, irritability can develop into a mood state that can last over a long period of time and can trigger these feelings over and over again. It can have a major impact on our whole lives. “When we’re in a mood it biases and restricts how we think,” says Paul Ekman, who is professor of psychology and director of the Human Interaction Laboratory at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco. Dr. Ekman is one of the world’s experts on emotional expression.

In describing these kinds of negative moods, Ekman continues. “It makes us vulnerable in ways that we are normally not. So the negative moods create a lot of problems for us, because they change how we think. If I wake up in an irritable mood, I’m looking for a chance to be angry. Things that ordinarily would not frustrate me, do. The danger of a mood is not only that it biases thinking but that it increases emotions. When I’m in an irritable mood, my anger comes stronger and faster, lasts longer, and is harder to control than usual. It’s a terrible state…one I would be glad never to have.”

Does this sound familiar? Do you see yourself, others you know and care about? If you have experiences to share, please drop me a note.

©2010 Jed Diamond

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Wealth can't buy health, but health can buy wealth. - Henry David Thoreau


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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