Connections: July 2004
© 2004 Hermes' Web Marketing Company
All Rights Reserved. Published in the USA.
Ed. Sarah Techau
Connections was originally published electronically
and distributed to members of the Hermes' Web
Community. We have included the majority of this
publication here, for your enjoyment. The Call For
Submissions email, which solicits members' input
on a specific topic for the upcoming issue, is also
Call For Submissions
Female practitioners face numerous challenges in
communicating with well-defended males. Many
basic physiological and sociological differences, as
well as conflicting learning and communication
styles, inhibit the effectiveness of therapy, education,
Read the full Call For Submissions for this issue
In This Issue
The Q & A Forum:
Hermes’ Web and male trauma and recovery
The challenge female professionals face in
communicating with well-defended males in treatment
The Barrier as a Thin Membrane
The Q & A Forum
In the Call for Submissions for this month’s issue, we asked you to submit questions about using Hermes’ Web as en effective
recovery tool that honors male communication and learning styles. Here’s what one member had to say, followed by a response from
Community member Mary Helen Hopponen, M Ed, LPC. We would like to thank Mary Helen for her generous submission to this
“What resources would you recommend I use to begin my learning process of how to communicate better with traumatized men? I’ve
read Gurian’s book on healing father-son wounds, but am interested in knowing more about men and trauma — how they deal with it,
how they don’t, etc. and how social and gender roles affect they way they communicate about it.”
Response From Mary Helen Hopponen, M Ed, LPC
Click here to view a list of books Mary Helen recommends.
Mary Helen Hopponen, M Ed, LPC shares her experience in using Hermes’ Web as an effective communication tool for working with
severely traumatized boys and men in her practice. We encourage you to share your experiences in how Hermes’ Web has worked in
your practice, school, or community.
The Challenge Female Professionals Face in Communicating With Well-Defended Males in Treatment
— Mary Helen Hopponen, M Ed, LPC
For the first 25 years or so as a political activist in the women’s movement, I really thought the changes that were happening because
of and for women were going to make all of our lives—men, women, and children—better, more productive, and more enjoyable.
However, about 5 years ago, my brain felt frozen as I considered a requested presentation for an eager feminist audience. The stopper
was the realization that for things to get better for any of us, the alienation and suffering of men and boys had to be addressed.
Although I had fancied myself more sensitive to men’s lives than most women, the painful truth of my ignorance was numbing. Where
could I go for direction?
First came books. My educator’s mind opened that door and only found more frustration. I was astounded at the great wealth of
literature on differentiation, fatherlessness, attachment disorders, victimization by both males and females, the complexities of healing
work with men, and the most astounding research of all—that male and female brains and bodies are totally different in both structure
and process. Humility came in big doses as I realized that many male behaviors that I, and women in general, found frustrating and
even ridiculous were valid in cause and value. For instance, all conceptions in vitro are female for 6 weeks or so. Then, male
hormones begin to “differentiate” the embryo from being female. This lifelong struggle to “not be female” accounts for all kinds of
problems and issues that are identified by mothers and female teachers, bosses, and partners as attempts on the part of a boy or
man to “control us”. But no, he is actually protecting himself from being overwhelmed by female energy (not to be confused with
rejecting caring, protective relationships with others).
Movies were my next lessons. If you work with men and haven’t internalized “The Last Castle” for the mythic vision of male leadership, if
you haven’t see the depth of male bonding in “The Brotherhood” or “Saving Private Ryan,” or if you don’t understand the profound
message of healing in “The Last Samurai,” please watch war movies until you do. Also, crime stories and westerns are usually more
about male relationships than women realize. For example, “Open Range” and “Missing” break the detached male hero pattern that
was first introduced by Captain America in the late 1930s. The lesson here? Female practitioners need to learn to unravel the male
mythology that is nearly always present in a good story.
For over 20 years, I have developed a special interest in and a recovery practice around male and female, child and adult victims of
severe physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and torture, prostitution, and generational cults. Trauma numbs the corpus callosum—
the membrane that connects our words (mostly in the left hemisphere) with experiences and emotions (in the right hemisphere). This
means any reliance exclusively on talk therapy is not appropriate or effective. And think again about how most women—who have more
than twice as many verbal centers as men—address relationships, work, education, therapy, and most all of, life. We talk. And if that
doesn’t work, we talk more and more, but to no avail. Talk is almost totally ineffective for any distressed male and is poor, too, for
traumatized females. So what does work? Where do you and I go as well-languaged females? We go to the male mode of learning
and relating—a visual, spatial, hands-on communication style.
Here is where my excitement about the Hermes’ Web approach comes in. Toys, objects, art, left/right hand drawing, writing (poetry)
movement, and even games are all alternative ways to “talk”. Relationships or events can be explained in a spatial layout as well as in
words. If emotions have color, size, and shape on a floor or table, that improves understanding. Hermes’ Web and the therapeutic toys
(snakes, insects, and evil action figures) say more than any words can describe. Resolution then comes within the vital rituals for
releasing emotions, terror, anger, and deep sorrow for the loss of connection to life itself.
Once I realized I needed to “talk” to men by keeping my own mouth shut and not interrupting, what I was finally able to learn was
staggering. I really didn’t “get it.” And very, very few women really have any idea what being male is all about—no matter how much we
might think otherwise. Our only hope is to observe and listen with all our senses. Otherwise, our words become weapons against
men, because their brains are not endowed with as many verbal centers as ours. Their mode of learning, communicating, and relating
is visual, spatial, ritualistic, and playful. It is centered around the brotherhood — mythological, structured, and protective. Therefore,
every sense must be involved.
The approach offered by Hermes’ Web helps me interface with those men who are recovering. I know though, that I have two “learning
disabilities.” One, I am female with a female brain and body and two; my victimization has not left me with PTSD or a dissociative
disorder. My addictions and compulsions are ludicrous compared to those I hear every day. I hope that the women who read this will
pursue readings on men and boys in trauma and recovery and observe and listen to their male colleagues, partners, and survivors. As
women, we may never totally “get it,” but we can do better if we stop considering our female being as the “norm” or worse, the preferred
The Barrier as a Thin Membrane
— Connections staff
The barrier between the ego and the core, though powerful and able to filter out many things, cannot prevent the core from being
affected and stirred up by events in one's life. On the surface, some people train themselves to show no reactions, act as though they
are never bothered, and hide their feelings. But in spite of that training, the insides will get stirred up nonetheless. The barrier can't stop
input from going in. It just stops it from coming back out.
If a person's core is highly regressed (1 - 4 years old psychologically), then a normal day will create a great deal of frustration and
irritation in the core. The barrier is powerful. But because it prevents honest communication, it can be considered a thin membrane in
terms of how close to the surface core feelings of frustration, anger, and irritation can be.
This is what explains a lot of domestic violence situations, or the "kicking the dog" syndrome. A man goes through his day at work,
keeping his mouth shut when his boss lays into him. His barrier prevents honest communication, so he shuts up because he doesn't
want to lose his job. He really hates his boss and wants to hit him, but he has trained his ego well enough to not actually carry that out.
When this same man comes home to his wife, he is irritable, even though he may deny it. Any little thing can set him off. Any little thing
can punch through that thin membrane and activate the suppressed frustration and anger. Thus, the dog gets kicked, the wife gets hit
or chewed out or belittled, and the man feels legitimate. He feels legitimate because of the strength of the feelings he is being allowed
to express, even though they’re indirect and were originally meant for someone else.
The phrase “walking on eggshells” refers to being around people who have only a thin membrane between themselves and their
irritated cores. The person walking on eggshells doesn’t want to be the person who delivers the last straw or breaks through the thin
membrane to release whatever forces the membrane has been holding back.
Police violence can work much the same way. Many police officers have regressed psychological cores as well. Thus, their frustration
builds up beneath the surface. When they finally find a "culprit," someone who has clearly done wrong and deserves punishment, the
core is ready and irritated and can fuel abusive behavior. The officer feels completely legitimate while meting out the punishment.
Some people experience a constant or persistent state of depression and/or anxiety because of the thinness of the protective barrier.
The first encounters with the core can be overwhelming, similar to the first task in many fairytales of having to sort out a mountain of
tiny, look-alike seeds. Prozac, Zoloft, and other medications are used to contend with the irritation and discomfort coming from the core
and the helplessness people feel in its power and disarray.
In all these cases, awareness is what is lacking. There is no awareness of the relationship between the two levels or of the necessity
for creating one. The core goes through the day accumulating reactions that the ego remains blissfully unaware of, or perhaps only
aware of through symptoms: a headache, nervousness, or incessant sexual fantasizing. Then, along comes a situation that triggers a
core response and the stored-up emotions are given a chance to breathe. The response is almost always abusive, because it lacks
awareness and contains so much pent-up anger and frustration. The thin membrane carries the day.
Connections: July 2004
Browse 2004 issues of
Connections by selecting a link
below or click here to return to the
September — Open forum!
August — Stories, films, and
cultural examples enhance
Hermes' Web use
July — The challenge female
professionals face in
communicating with well-
defended males in treatment
June — Hermes' Web and
compulsive online sexual behavior
May — Hermes' Web and
|Building Community. Changing Lives.