Most of us
believe that our genes determine everything from the levels of testosterone we
are born with to how long we will live. But the new science of epigenetics
shows that we can take back control of our lives and actually change the way
our genes work. That’s good news for everyone, but particularly for men and
Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCSF School of
Medicine, and author of the book Change
Your Genes, Change Your Life, “Biology is no longer destiny. Our DNA doesn’t rigidly
determine our health and disease prospects, as the previous generation of
geneticists believed. According to the new science of epigenetics, our genes
are shaped by what we think and what we do.”
working with men and their families for fifty years now and have found that
many men are locked into old patterns of irritability, anger, anxiety, and
depression and are unable to break free. Many women are impacted by a man’s
behavior but don’t know how to help.
In my book, 12 Rules for Good Men, coming out in November, I offer the most up-to-date
information available on how to help men and the families who love them. After
reading the book, Dr. Pelletier said, “Jed’s book is unique in offering an
in-depth understanding of why men are the way they are and do the things they
do. Based on his fifty years of experience working with men and their families,
he gives all of us the tools for living fully, loving deeply, and making a
positive difference in our lives.”
I have known
about Dr. Pelletier’s groundbreaking work in the field since the 1970s when his
book, Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer was first published and ushered
in the field of mind/body medicine. There have been natural connections between
his work and mine ever since that are reflected in our new books.
In Chapter 5
of Change Your Genes, Change Your Life, he discusses “Mind Matters” and how we
can turn off our genetic vulnerabilities by reducing stress. He correctly
recognizes that our early-life traumas can have a lasting impact on our adult
health. “Research shows that undue strain or abuse experienced during a child’s
development affects that young person’s epigenome far into adulthood, altering
their patterns of stress response and often leaving them with lifelong physical
vulnerabilities or emotional disabilities that require treatment.”
research recognizes that men tend to be forward-looking and action-oriented and
often don’t recognize the impact of our early life’s traumas and as result, we
are more vulnerable to everything from heart-disease and alcoholism to cancer
In Rule #9
from the book, I described my own denial in addressing childhood wounds. It
never occurred to me that my lifelong anger and depression and later my two
broken marriages had anything to do with my past. All that changed in 1998 when
I reached out to a colleague, Dr. Charles Whitfield, because I couldn’t seem to
heal my depression in spite of the fact that I was receiving good therapy and
was taking medications. He told me that the missing piece in my healing might
be addressing childhood trauma. I learned about Adverse Childhood Experiences
(ACEs) and found they were very common, including experiencing divorce or
parents who were depressed or alcoholic.
I found I had
4 ACEs, which is great if you’re playing poker. However, in the game of life
four ACEs are very risky. The study found the following increased risk factors
for those who had 4 or more ACES compared to those who had none:
- A 4- to 12-fold increase in health risks for alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide attempts.
- A 2- to 4-fold increase in smoking, poor self-rated health, having more than fifty sexual intercourse partners, and sexually transmitted disease.
- A 1.4 to 1.6-fold increase in physical inactivity and severe obesity.
The good news
is that we are not the victims of our genes and we’re not the victims of our
early-life experiences. Neither do we have to settle for healthcare that is
impersonal and generic. In Chapter 6 of Change
Your Life, Change Your Genes, Dr. Pelletier says, “Our challenge today is to jumpstart a
transformation of healthcare for medicine designed for a ‘standard’ human to
one that treats each individual as special.”
emerging research in gender-specific medicine. Marianne J. Legato M.D, Director
of the Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine says, “Everywhere we look, the
two sexes are startlingly and unexpectedly different not only in their internal
function but in the way they experience illness.” For the first time, we can
have healthcare designed specifically for the unique needs of males and females.
I guide men,
and the families who love them, through the following 12 practice, or rules,
that help men to live fully, love deeply, and make a positive difference in the
Join a Men’s Group.
Break Free From the Man Box.
Accept the Gift of Maleness.
Embrace Your Billion Year History of Maleness.
Recognize Your Anger and Fear Toward Women.
Learn The Secrets of Real, Lasting Love.
Undergo Meaningful Rites of Passage from Youth to Adulthood and from Adulthood
to Super Adulthood.
Celebrate Your True Warrior Spirit and Learn Why Males Duel and Females Duet.
Understand and Heal Your Adverse Childhood Experiences and Male Attachment
Heal Your Father Wound and Become the Father You Were Meant to Be.
Treat the Irritable Male Syndrome and Male-Type Depression.
Find Your Mission in Life and Do Your Part to Save Humanity.
In the words
of Bob Dylan, truly, the times they are a changing. We now have opportunities
never before available. To learn more, you can contact Dr. Pelletier at https://drpelletier.com/ and you can email me. We look forward to connecting with you.
This article first appeared on Jed’s blog.