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EP 18 - William Allen Is a Highly Sensitive Man, and Proud of It

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station description Sometimes just talking can be a revolutionary act.
Men Are Talking
Duration: 55:05
"Highly Sensitive Man" is not just what a few men happen to be. More and more that phrase is being recognized as a good label for one of the primary personality types and is estimated by psychologist Elaine Aron to apply to about twenty-percent of men... and women. But we think of sensitive men and
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"Highly Sensitive Man" is not just what a few men happen to be. More and more that phrase is being recognized as a good label for one of the primary personality types and is estimated by psychologist Elaine Aron to apply to about twenty-percent of men... and women. But we think of sensitive men and sensitive women very differently, don't we? Today on Men Are Talking we talk with William Allen, a Highly Sensitive Man who wrote the book on that. = = = Full Transcript of excerpted audio segment from "On Being" with Krista Tippett and Brené Brown November 22, 2012 "On Being with Krista Tippett" American Public Media Guest: Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW Research Professor, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work MS. TIPPETT: So something that I think is really important also that you've gotten into is the difference between men and women in this and the way women do shame and perfectionism and vulnerability and the way men do it. I want you to tell the story about the man in the yellow golf jacket. [On p. 83 of her book Daring Greatly, Brown describes the garment as a yellow Izod golf sweater.] MS. BROWN: OK. So when I started researching shame, I only studied women and I did that for a couple of reasons, the first selfish. I wanted to know — you know, that was my interest because that was my experience and because there was a lot of argument in the academic literature about men and women are different, that we don't experience shame the same way. So I thought, let me keep it really clean and just study women. MS. TIPPETT: It also kind of feels like a word that women would say more, like even if I said I didn't like the word, it feels like a word that's hard to imagine men talking about. MS. BROWN: No, it's true. But I also came up under a pretty rigorous feminist academic upbringing in my studies, so I was really interested. Because, you know, you think about shame in women, you think about media, body image, you think about — yeah. So it made sense to me. So I was at a book signing and a couple came up to me and I signed four books for the woman and she grabbed them and she's walked away from the table and her husband who was standing with her stayed. And she said, "Come on, babe, let's go" and he said, "No, I want to talk to her for a minute," meaning me. She said, "No, come on, let's go, let's go." He said, "I'm going to talk to her for a second." There was some tension in that conversation. I was thinking, oh, my God, you need to go. I don't know why you want to stay. MS. TIPPETT: Go with your wife. [Laugh] MS. BROWN: Yeah, go because you're hell bent for leather to talk to me and I'd rather you not. He said, "I really liked everything you said. I really like this idea of reaching out and telling our stories and showing up, but you didn't mention men." You know, my initial thought was, oh, gosh, thank God this is going to wrap up quick, because — I don't — you know? So I looked to him and I said, "I don't study men." And he said, "Well, that's convenient." And my heart was just like, oh, God. And he said, "We have shame, we have deep shame, but when we reach out and tell our stories, we get the emotional [bleep] beat out of us." And he said, "And before you say anything about those mean fathers and those coaches and those brothers and those bully friends, my wife and three daughters, the ones who you just signed the books for, they had rather see me die on top of my white horse than have to watch me fall off." Then he just walked away. You know, when truth hits you, it just hits you and you know what it is the second it comes to you. I knew that my research was going to be profoundly changed and I knew that it was going to be difficult and painful and that I was going to learn things about myself that I probably didn't want to know, and that's exactly what happened. MS. TIPPETT: I mean, I think you learn things also that women growing up now and feminist and post-feminist women, I mean, it's like a reckoning. MS. BROWN: It felt like a reckoning and it felt like a reckoning for years talking to men about their experiences. I think, you know, shame is a universal human experience. Like you say, if it washes over me, it's going to be the same as it washes over, you know, my husband, Steve. But the messages and expectations that fuel shame, the messages and expectations that bring us to our knees, are so organized by gender. You know, for women, it's really about do it all, do it perfectly and make sure you make it look effortless. MS. TIPPETT: Right. It's also about how we look, right? I mean, part of that is, and look great while you're doing it too. MS. BROWN: Oh, yeah, absolutely, no question. I mean, that's the part that better look effortless. Appearance and body image is still the number one shame trigger for women. For men, there's a really
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