Men, Violence and Substance Misuse: A Study of White Working Class Masculinities in Deptford

Whittingdon, Dean. 2005. Men, Violence and Substance Misuse: A Study of White Working Class Masculinities in Deptford. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This research explores the relationships between white male masculinities, violence and drug use. It stems from my work in Deptford, South East London, initially as a counsellor, then as a manager. The 14 men aged 24-40 who took part were undertaking counselling.

It was from 1989 until 1995, as trust was established, these clients began to disclose their inner worlds. They revealed how they used substances to obliterate their feelings. The younger men spoke of the emotional pain they carried as a result of their fathers' violence and its latent effect on their emotional development.

In response, they had created masculine 'fronts', a strategy for warding off pain. Prior to their drug use, these men described how they externalised their violence when clashing with social institutions. Institutional power was directed at correcting these 'fronts'. These men reacted by further masking their emotional lives, colluding with disciplinarian systems by upholding a personal silence. This ability to endure pain has provided them with a local status.

Two of the men spoke of their fathers' emotional worlds shaped by the resonant effects of war, poverty and abuse, constraining their fathers' ability to connect emotionally with their families. They related how their fathers used alcohol to self-medicate thereby masking their pain and then discharging their frustration through violence onto their wives and children.

I trace the connections between their fathers' acts and how their sons coped with the after effects. I explored with the clients how they navigated the tensions of being caught in a 'double bind', feeling torn between love and hate and a desire to discharge their 'stings'. This emerges as violence, primarily directed at other men (an explosion), or self-medication (shrinking) through the use of heroin.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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masculinities, white males, violence, drug use, substance misuse, Deptford

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Date Deposited:

08 Jun 2020 14:15

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:36


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