Five Keys to
Understanding Men

Gary L. Malone &
Susan Mary Malone
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Buy *Five Keys to Understanding Men* online Five Keys for
Understanding Men

Gary L. Malone, MD &
Susan Mary Malone
Authorlink Press
252 pages
September 1999
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

Gary L. Malone, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and Susan Mary Malone, author of the novel By the Book, say in Five Keys for Understanding Men: A Woman's Guide that they will

"unveil the five hidden keys to the male mind... you can understand (and deal with) over eighty percent of a man's behavior as well as decipher the motivation behind it."
The book is organized around five not-so-hidden male principles that may parallel man's stages of psychological development:
  • attachment and loss (oral);
  • mastery (anal);
  • competency (narcissism) and fear of castration (phallic);
  • guilt (Oedipal);
  • male bonding (latency) and sex (genital)
Each chapter concludes with a short case study, a checklist requiring the (female) reader to answer a set of subjective questions with 'yes' or 'no' answers -- e.g., "Do you know yourself well enough to sift out, your own idiosyncratic reactions from the true data gathered by responding to (or observing?) him?"

All but one chapter ends with a set of questions and answers, for example p. 51's

"Question: I give my husband everything I can -- love, comfort, food -- and he seems appreciative. When it's 'my time' in the bedroom, he seems like a little boy! I'm frustrated.

Answer: Infantilizing a man will encourage him to behave like an infant. Have reasonable, adult expectations of him (even in bed), and don't let your 'need to nurture' take away his manhood."
Unless you have been exposed to Freud's theory of psychosexual development, or have been in psychotherapy, the jargon (quiescently, counter-phobic, castration, count coup) and statements (such as p.49, "Sex is more intense for men and does more inter-psychically;" and p.174, "Women usually form tighter bonds in adult life than men.") overgeneralize and obscure potentially factual, quasi-scientific assertions. Dr. Malone offers personal examples and poignant memories of his early life in Texas with his father and brother (like when Dad arrives just in time to shoot a rattlesnake as it prepares to strike Gary and older brother Mike after they quit hunting doves), peers (boys clubs with no girls allowed), then later with colleagues, to illustrate male drives in action and the consequences of bonding, and failing to bond, with males. He discusses men's aggressive and sexual drives, attendant fears and guilt (symbolic "pissing contests," machismo, and tribal preoccupations with sex, dominance, mastery, and control) and compensatory activities (working with tools, cars, gadgets; the bar scene; hunting, fishing, and cleaning game; football, TV, fantasy and team sports).

The authors warn of toxic males who may be unable to make healthy mates (e.g., chemically dependent, sociopaths, sex perverts, pedophiles, homosexuals or bisexuals). They lay out specific cautions to consider in any new or serious relationship. One can only wonder how these keys for understanding interact with the multiple realities of dating, mate assessment, love, and social selection processes. The personal resources needed and introspection required to make "wise choices" in emergent relationships make self-analysis a difficult, but worthwhile goal. The authors, acutely aware of human limitations, go beyond the book's initial goal to repeatedly assert that abused women should get out of conflicted relationships early. They urge men and women at any age to deal with unresolved conflicts and relationship issues by using appropriate, professional treatment.

The reviewer recommends Five Keys for Understanding Men: A Women's Guide for any one willing to do the moral inventory, then develop the skills needed to cut through denial, guilt, and fear to learn how to manage, resolve, or leave an abusive and otherwise failing relationship.

© 2001 by David L. Johnson, Ph D, for Curled Up With a Good Book

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