I Don’t Want To Talk About Salsa: Overcoming The Secret Legacy Of Salsa Gigolo Depression.

31 Dec

The following references are from:
I Dont' Want to Talk About It:  Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression
by Terrence Real ».

A book about covert vs. overt depression in men.

Chapter Three: The Hollow Men: Covert Depression and Addiction, Page 63:
“… In theory an addictive relationship can be established with just about anything, so long as the substance, person, or activity relieves the threat of overt depression. To accomplish this, the defense must transform one’s state from shame to grandiosity, from feelings of worth-less-ness to feelings of extraordinary worth and well-being. In common language, this sudden shift in consciousness is called intoxication. Along with the obvious effect of drugs or alcohol, one can also get “high” from the rush of physical violence, the applause of an audience, a sexual conquest, a killing in the stock market.

In covert depression, the defence or addiction always pulls the man from “less than” to “better than” — rather than to a moderate sense of inherent value. Defensive compensations for underlying depression can never move one directly from shame to healthy self-esteem, because such a shift requires confrontation with, rather than avoidance of, one’s own feelings. The covertly depressed person cannot merely vault over the avoided pain directly into wholeness, as hard as he may try. The only real cure for covert depression is overt depression … First, the covertly depressed man must walk through the fire from which he has run. He must allow the pain to surface. Then, he may resolve his hidden depression by learning about self-care and healthy esteem. …”

Chapter Three: The Hollow Men: Covert Depression and Addiction, Page 63

Salsa can be addictive to a salsa gigolo. For a salsa gigolo with covert depression, salsa can provide the intoxication needed to lift one’s state to grandiosity or “better than” through a variety of channels: the biochemical effects derived from the physical aspect of dancing, the explicit or implicit applause or approval of an audience of one or an audience of many, and the sexual conquest/ dominance display within a dance and potentially after a dance.

Not just the change of state, but degree of change of state. The more extreme the degree, the more intoxicating.

Chapter Seven: Collateral Damage, Pages 171-172:
“… Such are the rewards of false empowerment, when playing means winning and winning means dominating, when sex becomes “knocking them over,” and other people become “common, petty sons-of-bitches.” Glory, perhaps, for a moment. But warmth, richness, humanity? Not much. Nevertheless, if winning is lonely, losing is worse.

To fail in the agenda of grandiosity, of achieving specialness through dominance, is to lose one’s masculinity and pronounce oneself that most hated thing — a sissy, a “wuss” (a word that combines “wimp” and “pussy”), a girl. Those who seek to push boys out of the affiliative, vulnerable mode often use the threat of such gender ridicule … Once we realize that the elusive “masculine identity” does not exist inside the boy’s psyche, but rather that it is a social construct to which the boy must bend and comply, we can understand why it is impossible for most boys to feel secure about it. Being “man enough” isn’t something one has definitively once and for all. It is something one is granted by the community of men whom we experience as watching, weighing, and judging. To “become” a man — an act that is supposed to be quintessentially independent — in fact means that a male reference group consents to call one a man. The construction of manhood turns out to be as social as a sewing circle. Masculinity, unlike femininity, is conferred. And since it is bestowed, it can also be taken away. …”

Chapter Seven: Collateral Damage, Pages 171-172

In my non-salsa gigolo life, I admonished a man for being emotional by saying, “We are men”, i.e. “We are men, so we don’t get emotional.” In my head, I was thinking, “Be a man,” and “Man-up.” I was ready to attack his sense of masculinity to protect my own sense of masculinity. Not something I am proud of.

When a salsa gigolo is chuffed with himself, it is because he is on his way to becoming a salsa gigolo’s salsa gigolo, or a man’s man. I wonder if this sense of grandiosity is something to be wary of, to be sure a salsa gigolo is not using salsa to medicate for depression.

Chapter Ten: Crossing the Wasteland: Healing Ourselves, Page 286-288:
“… Appreciating the nature of trauma memory is key to understanding a depressed man’s recovery process. In a way, trauma memory is not memory at all; it is a form of reliving. Jeffrey is flooded by a physiological surge when he is rebuffed on the dance floor. In that instant, he is not a fifty-year-old man remembering the feelings he experienced as an eight-year-old boy. For a brief moment, Jeffrey becomes that boy. He looks out at the world, at the person who rejects him, through the lens of that abandoned child. He is “in his wound,” in his child ego state. The technical term for this phenomenon is state dependent recall. When the combat veteran who hears a firecracker spins around as if he had a gun in his hands, he is not remembering combat; he is back in it. …

… Current research indicates that traumatic experience may be stored in a different part of the brain from the higher cortical systems, which make sense of them. Several researchers have distinguished the two different circuits of memory, calling one the explicit, the other the implicit memory system. The implicit memory system stores habitual responses, physiological responses, and emotional associations. The explicit memory system is responsible for the recall of facts, verbalizations, and the construction of explanatory frames. To put it simply, the implicit memory system experiences, the explicit memory system knows and explains. A host of studies now indicate that they function as distinct neurophysiological pathways. Explicit memory involves the prefrontal cortex, whereas implicit memory involves the limbic system, particularly the amygdala and the hippocampus. What neurobiological researchers have learned from physiology is consistent with what I, and others, have learned from clinical experience. Recovery means bringing these two systems together. Van der Kolk writes:

“The goal of treating post traumatic stress disorder is to help people live in the present, without feeling or behaving according to irrelevant demands belonging to the past. Psychologically, this means that traumatic experiences need to be located in time and place and differentiated from current reality.”

Van der Kolk goes on to say that, in traumatized people, the body’s hyperaroused state may be too great to allow talking therapy alone to be effective. He recommends, and I agree, that clinicians should feel free to rely upon medication when needed to give patients a stable platform from which they can undertake the hard work of psychotherapy. The drugs of choice for treating post traumatic stress disorder should come as no surprise. They are Prozac and its family, the “serotonin reuptake inhibitors.” Serotonin has been identified as a critical agent in helping the septohippocampal system delay the “fight of flight” state of emergency hyperarousal. Serotonin is the same chemical whose imbalance is implicated in overt depression, impulsive aggression, “antisocial personalities,” obsessive-compulsive disorder, and possibly some addictions. Our knowledge about serotonin is relatively crude, but the one thing that seems tantalizingly clear is that the track of serotonin imbalance correlates, in some manner, to self-esteem, to trauma, and to depression — both overt and covert. Researchers like Bessel van der Kolk, Robert Golden, and H. M. Van Praag have called for a questioning of psychiatry’s fundamental idea of discrete disease entities. New research on psychobiology points toward a cluster of possible disorders and symptoms, ranging from depression to anxiety to aggression, which share a physiological signature — serotonin imbalance. As for recovery, the Prozac family seems to approximate chemically some of what healing work accomplishes emotionally and cognitively. It helps quiet the implicit memory system and strengthen the explicit memory system, or, said differently, it help decrease the intensity of the wounded internal children and bolster the skills of the functional adult. …”

Chapter Ten: Crossing the Wasteland: Healing Ourselves, Page 286-288

Salsa rejection, when a salsera declines a salsa gigolo’s invitation to dance, is about a salsera saying, “No, you are not man enough for me.” It is also about a salsa gigolo imagining his fellow salsa gigolos bearing witness to this emasculation.

It would be interesting to see a study, where a salsa gigolo reads a script to a salsera, whom he believes is also reading from a script. He would ask, “Would you like to dance?” And she would reply, “No, Thank you.” Then reverse the experiment, with the salsera asking the salsa gigolo to dance.

Hypothesis: The physiological response in a salsa gigolo being rejected is significantly greater than the physiological response of a salsera being rejected.

Hypothesis: The physiological response in a salsa gigolo being rejected after 0 non-rejections is significantly greater than the physiological response of a salsa gigolo after 1 or more non-rejections.

Hypothesis: The physiological response in a salsa gigolo being rejected, who self-reports a poor relationship with his father, is significantly greater than the physiological response of a salsa gigolo, who self-reports a good relationship with his father.

For now, I think the healthiest response to salsa rejection is to express sadness for a moment, and then to move on. “We are men”.


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