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“Chokin’ it down” : men’s experience of emotional inexpression Hoover, Stuart Michael


Male gender socialization teaches men to resist experiencing vulnerable emotions in themselves or in others. Emotional inexpression is so foundational to the male gender role that men may be unable to express emotions, or feel compelled to “choke down” their emotions before others and within themselves. A majority of clinicians endorse greater emotional expression as desirable for men, which provides a rationale for therapeutic interventions that increase men’s emotional expressivity. However, some authors propose that men’s emotional inexpression can have adaptive qualities, such as enabling them to function under stressful or traumatic situations. The aim of this study was to step back and understand men’s experiences of maintaining emotional inexpression while feeling a strong emotional reaction arising within them. A phenomenological study was conducted with six men to explore this experience. Themes arising from this study inform theory of emotional expressivity and provide possible therapeutic interventions aimed at increasing these men’s emotional expression and lay groundwork for further studies in male emotional expression.

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