Nearly half of US adults have heart or blood vessel disease

A new report estimates that nearly half of all U.S. adults have some form of heart or blood vessel disease, a medical milestone that’s mostly due to recent guidelines that expanded how many people have high blood pressure.

The American Heart Association said Thursday that more than 121 million adults had cardiovascular disease in 2016. Taking out those with only high blood pressure leaves 24 million, or 9 percent of adults, who have other forms of disease such as heart failure or clogged arteries.

Measuring the burden of diseases shows areas that need to improve, the heart association’s chief science and medical officer, Dr. Mariell Jessup, said in a statement.

High blood pressure, which had long been defined as a top reading of at least 140 or a bottom one of 90, dropped to 130 over 80 under guidelines adopted in 2017. It raises the risk for heart attacks, strokes and many other problems, and only about half of those with the condition have it under control.

Being diagnosed with high blood pressure doesn’t necessarily mean you need medication right away; the first step is aiming for a healthier lifestyle, even for those who are prescribed medicine. Poor diets, lack of exercise and other bad habits cause 90 percent of high blood pressure.

The report is an annual statistics update by the heart association, the National Institutes of Health and others.

Other highlights:

-Heart and blood vessel disease is linked to 1 of every 3 deaths in the United States and kills more Americans than all forms of cancer and respiratory diseases like pneumonia combined.

-Certain groups have higher rates than others; 57 percent of black women and 60 percent of black males.

-Coronary heart disease, or clogged or hardened arteries, caused 43 percent of cardiovascular deaths in the U.S., followed by stroke (17 percent), high blood pressure (10 percent) and heart failure (9 percent).

Vaping poses health risks: New study finds e-cigs raise risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks by up to 70%

Vaping e-cigarettes raises the risks of having a heart attack, stroke, or heart disease, a new study finds.

About one in 20 US adults use e-cigarettes and many of them claim to do so because they are ‘healthier’ than combustible cigarettes.

But the devices are still relatively new and poorly understood.

As more and more research on them comes out, it becomes increasingly clear that ‘safer’ doesn’t mean safe.

The latest study, conducted by the American Heart Association, found that heart attacks are nearly 60 percent more common among vapers, who are at a 71 percent higher risk of stroke.

When e-cigarettes started appearing on the shelves of smoke shops and convenience stores, they were often advertised as a cessation aid for smokers.

But now, it’s become clear they are more likely to be an addition to, rather than substitute for, combustible cigarettes.

The American Heart Association (AHA) study found that people who vape are twice as likely to also smoke traditional cigarettes as are those who don’t vape.

In all likelihood, the high rates of dual usage contribute to a number of poorer health effects seen in e-cig users.

Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer because inhaling smoke from burned plant matter is highly carcinogenic, so vapor from e-liquids so far seems somewhat safer for the longs.

But a growing body of research suggests that e-cigarettes are just as bad for the heart and cardiovascular system as traditional cigarettes.

Last year, the American Heart Association found that both combustible and e-cigarettes corrupt the lining of the blood vessels, preventing them from dilating and inhibiting the flow of blood.

This narrowing of blood’s passageways makes the heart have to work harder and damages it over time.

Now, Association’s largest study on e-cigs and stroke confirms the link between vaping and potentially fatal blood clots.

In its survey of 400,000 people, the AHA found that nearly 66,795 respondents who vaped had a 71 percent higher risk of stroke.

The same group was at a 59 percent higher risk of having a heart attack or angina.

And they were at 40 percent greater risk of developing heart disease.

Although the rate of stroke among e-cig users was notable – 4.2 percent had suffered one – the researchers could not conclude that vaping kills.

Worryingly, rates of e-cig use are highest among the young people. Just 4.2 percent of adults vape, as compared to 11.3 percent of high school students.

That may mean that that generation will face more heart disease, stroke and heart attack than those that came before them.

‘It’s obviously quite concerning,’ said Dr Larry Goldstein, chairman of the department of neurology and co-director of the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute.

‘This is a potential chip of the spear, of a wave of cardio-vascular disease, that may be coming in the future, especially since this has been so attractive to young users.’

He advised the public health officials must continue to push for a ban on sweet flavored e-liquids that are so enticing to younger users.

‘This is the first real data that we’re seeing associating e-cigarette use with hard cardiovascular events,’ he added.

‘But it’s quite a concern, especially since nationwide now we’ve seen a leveling off in, and in many instances an increase in the risk of stroke-related mortality in the country. It’s hard to know what contribution this has to that, but it doesn’t appear to be safer, or safe right now from the data that’s available.’

Why the eight-hour workday doesn’t work

The 8-hour workday is an outdated and ineffective approach to work. If you want to be as productive as possible, you need to let go of this relic and find a new approach.

The 8-hour workday was created during the industrial revolution as an effort to cut down on the number of hours of manual labor that workers were forced to endure on the factory floor. This breakthrough was a more humane approach to work two hundred years ago, yet it possesses little relevance for us today.

Like our ancestors, we’re expected to put in 8-hour days, working in long, continuous blocks of time, with few or no breaks. Heck, most people even work right through their lunch hour!

This antiquated approach to work isn’t helping us; it’s holding us back.

The Best Way to Structure Your Day

A study recently conducted by the Draugiem Group used a computer application to track employees’ work habits. Specifically, the application measured how much time people spent on various tasks and compared this to their productivity levels.

In the process of measuring people’s activity, they stumbled upon a fascinating finding: the length of the workday didn’t matter much; what mattered was how people structured their day. In particular, people who were religious about taking short breaks were far more productive than those who worked longer hours.

The ideal work-to-break ratio was 52 minutes of work, followed by 17 minutes of rest. People who maintained this schedule had a unique level of focus in their work. For roughly an hour at a time, they were 100% dedicated to the task they needed to accomplish. They didn’t check Facebook “real quick” or get distracted by e-mails. When they felt fatigue (again, after about an hour), they took short breaks, during which they completely separated themselves from their work. This helped them to dive back in refreshed for another productive hour of work.

Your Brain Wants an Hour On, 15 Minutes Off

People who have discovered this magic productivity ratio crush their competition because they tap into a fundamental need of the human mind: the brain naturally functions in spurts of high energy (roughly an hour) followed by spurts of low energy (15-20 minutes).

For most of us, this natural ebb and flow of energy leaves us wavering between focused periods of high energy followed by far less productive periods, when we tire and succumb to distractions.

The best way to beat exhaustion and frustrating distractions is to get intentional about your workday. Instead of working for an hour or more and then trying to battle through distractions and fatigue, when your productivity begins to dip, take this as a sign that it’s time for a break.

Real breaks are easier to take when you know they’re going to make your day more productive. We often let fatigue win because we continue working through it (long after we’ve lost energy and focus), and the breaks we take aren’t real breaks (checking your e-mail and watching YouTube doesn’t recharge you the same way as taking a walk does).

Take Charge of Your Workday

The 8-hour workday can work for you if you break your time into strategic intervals. Once you align your natural energy with your effort, things begin to run much more smoothly. Here are four tips that will get you into that perfect rhythm.

Break your day into hourly intervals. We naturally plan what we need to accomplish by the end of the day, the week, or the month, but we’re far more effective when we focus on what we can accomplish right now. Beyond getting you into the right rhythm, planning your day around hour-long intervals simplifies daunting tasks by breaking them into manageable pieces. If you want to be a literalist, you can plan your day around 52-minute intervals if you like, but an hour works just as well.

Respect your hour. The interval strategy only works because we use our peak energy levels to reach an extremely high level of focus for a relatively short amount of time. When you disrespect your hour by texting, checking e-mails, or doing a quick Facebook check, you defeat the entire purpose of the approach.

Take real rest. In the study at Draugiem, they found that employees who took more frequent rests than the hourly optimum were more productive than those who didn’t rest at all. Likewise, those who took deliberately relaxing breaks were better off than those who, when “resting,” had trouble separating themselves from their work. Getting away from your computer, your phone, and your to-do list is essential to boosting your productivity. Breaks such as walking, reading, and chatting are the most effective forms of recharging because they take you away from your work. On a busy day, it might be tempting to think of dealing with e-mails or making phone calls as breaks, but they aren’t, so don’t give in to this line of thought.

Don’t wait until your body tells you to take a break. If you wait until you feel tired to take a break, it’s too late-you’ve already missed the window of peak productivity. Keeping to your schedule ensures that you work when you’re the most productive and that you rest during times that would otherwise be unproductive. Remember, it’s far more productive to rest for short periods than it is to keep on working when you’re tired and distracted.

Bringing It All Together

Breaking your day down into chunks of work and rest that match your natural energy levels feels good, makes your workday go faster, and boosts your productivity.

Do you notice your energy and focus waxing and waning according to the cycle described above? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence testsand training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, TIME, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

Study shows people are strongly influenced by gossip even when it is explicitly untrustworthy

New research in the journal Emotion suggests that people are highly influenced by gossip, even when it is explicitly identified as untrustworthy. The findings indicate that qualifiers such as “allegedly” do little to temper the effects of negative information on a person’s likeability.

“Words and phrases like ‘apparently’, ‘allegedly’ or ‘is suspected of’ are frequently used in daily communication, in social media and in media coverage about people, in order to signify the questionable veracity of information. These terms even serve a legal purpose and are intended to prevent false accusations, prejudgments and defamations,” said study author Julia Baum of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Berlin School of Mind and Brain.

“Until now, however, little has been known about how our brain processes verbally communicated person-related information of dubious reliability and how this affects our judgments. Do we consider the uncertainty of information in order to temper our judgment about a person, formed on the basis of negative statements, and to prevent misjudgements?”

In two experiments, with 56 German participants in total, the researchers found that the judgment of people was strongly influenced by positive or negative information, even if that information was presented as uncertain.

In the study, participants viewed photographs of unfamiliar faces and received verbal information about the person, which was either presented as trustworthy fact (e.g. “He bullied his apprentice.”) or untrustworthy gossip (e.g. “He allegedly bullied his apprentice.”).

During subsequent person judgments, the researchers recorded the brain activity of participants using an electroencephalogram. They were particularly interested in two neurophysiological markers called the Late Positive Potential and the Early Posterior Negativity, which are both associated with emotional processing.

“The experiments show that we tend to judge people on a strongly emotional basis, even if this judgment is knowingly based on unreliable evidence. Therefore, we should be aware that verbally marking information untrustworthy (‘allegedly’) does not seem to have the desirable consequences of preventing prejudgments or defamation,” Baum told PsyPost.

“Similarly to situations in real life, the experiment participants were not explicitly asked to actively suppress the emotional content or to consciously consider the effects of rumors. Instead, the participants were free in their decision to use the indications relating to the questionable reliability of the information in order to put their judgments into perspective.”

“Future studies should examine the circumstances in which the unreliability of person-related information is considered in order to regulate our emotional responses and judgments,” Baum said.

The study, “Clear judgments based on unclear evidence: Person evaluation is strongly influenced by untrustworthy gossip“, was authored by Julia Baum, Milena Rabovsky, Sebastian Benjamin Rose, and Rasha Abdel Rahman.

Weighted blankets might ease insomnia and anxiety, here’s what to know before purchasing one

If 2017 was the year of the Instant Pot, 2018 was the year to gift or get a weighted blanket – a duvetlike bed cover weighing from five to 25 pounds. Never heard of one? Neither had I, until I got this assignment. But they are a hot commodity. For example, the Gravity Blanket, which began as a Kickstarter campaign in 2017, reports $16.5 million in sales for 2018.

The theory is that a heavier-than-normal blanket hugs a sleeper, and may prevent tossing and turning. As a result, the sleeper feels more secure, and sleeps more soundly and for longer periods of time.

The concept isn’t new. Heavy wraps have been used as a calming mechanism for children with autism, ADHD and other sensory disorders for more than a decade. Parents have swaddled their newborns for centuries. And the idea isn’t limited to humans: Pet owners can outfit their dogs and cats with ” ThunderShirts” (weighted vests) to keep them from going bonkers during thunderstorms and fireworks.

With a few exceptions, weighted blankets are composed of 6-by-6-inch stitched squares (some brands are 4-by-4-inch) filled with tiny glass or plastic beads. The only real distinguishing feature is the exterior, which comes in an array of colors, patterns and fabrics such as cotton, flannel, microfiber and polyester.

How did weighted blankets morph from a therapeutic tool to the hottest holiday must-have? Word-of mouth, says Bill Fish, co-founder of, a sleep resource website. “An acquaintance posted about one on Facebook and received 100 comments in the first 24 hours. People swear by their blankets. It’s astounding,” says Fish, who not only sleeps with one, but has tested more than a dozen weighted blankets.

In the past year, interest in weighted blankets soared. In November 2018, recorded 1 million visitors, with the blanket page being the most visited. Sales of Mosaic Weighted Blankets doubled from 2017 to 2018, and SensaCalm has doubled its sales almost every year since launching in 2008. Mike Grillo, president of Gravity Products, tells me his company was totally sold out of blankets by Dec. 10. “The holidays overwhelmed our expectations,” he says.

Medical science is just starting to, ahem, weigh in. There is little data on the efficacy of weighted blankets. As Raj Dasgupta, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California and a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, points out, it’s tough to do a randomized double-blind trial on these products because they’re weighted blankets.

But Dasgupta is open to the use of weighted blankets. He sees sleep as a puzzle made up of pieces including sound, light, temperature and comfort; restless sleepers and those dealing with insomnia need to figure out their missing piece. For some, the answer is a white noise machine, blackout curtains, the perfect pillow or blue-light blockers. “For others, it’s the sensation of being hugged and cuddled – improved comfort,” Dasgupta says. “I truly believe people with sleep issues don’t want to be on prescription drugs for their lifetime. If a weighted blanket helps, I’m all for it.”

Blankets have another advantage over prescription sleep aids, the success of which may take days to determine. “With a weighted blanket, you can tell in one night,” Fish says.

That was the case with Kellsie Rees. Leg pain from being on her feet all day interrupted Rees’s sleep nightly. The discomfort, and the stress of running her woodworking company in Hadley, Mass., motivated her to buy a 20-pound weighted blanket last September. “As soon as I tried it, I knew I would use it every night. Not only did I stop waking up in the middle of the night, but I fall asleep almost instantly,” she says. Rees was so impressed that she bought one as a birthday gift for a friend with sleep issues. Her only complaint? “I travel a lot and can’t take it with me. I wish the hotels had loaners.”

If you’re thinking about adding a weighted blanket to your sleep routine, here’s what you need to know.

There is no “must-buy” brand. Although well-known companies such as Sleep Number are getting into the weighted blanket game, there is no industry leader, Fish says. You’ll find weighted blankets at department stores, mass merchandisers, bedding shops and online on both shopping sites and sites for people with special needs. Some companies will produce a custom blanket on demand.

Weight matters. Most blankets are sold in five-pound increments from five to 25 pounds. A general rule of thumb is to choose a blanket roughly 10 percent of your ideal body weight, recommends Laura LeMond, owner of Mosaic Weighted Blankets. But, you may need a heavier or lighter version, depending on personal preference. Young children under the age of 3 or weighing less than 50 pounds should not use a weighted blanket because of the risk of suffocation – there have been at least two child deaths involving the blankets. If you’re buying one for a child, err on the side of caution and get a blanket that’s less than 10 percent of their weight.

They aren’t cheap. Weighted blankets sell for $70 to $300. The heavier the blanket, the larger the size and the higher quality the materials, the greater the cost.

Make sure you can wash it. Whether the blanket is a one-piece or slips into a cover, it is going to get dirty at some point. You want one that is machine-washable, says Donna Chambers, founder of SensaCalm.

This is a solo act. Though weighted blankets come in various lengths, most are 48 inches wide, a bit narrower than a twin bed. “I do wish they were wider. When I roll, I end up half under and half outside the blanket,” Fish says. “It’s also an odd feeling having two different blankets on a bed and not sharing the covers with your partner.”

You may get hot. No matter how cool you keep your bedroom, many people feel warm or even hot in bed because of their own body temperature and the composition of their mattress (foam and latex are hotter than springs). A heavy blanket may exacerbate the problem. If you “sleep warm,” look for a natural fiber cover or one designed to wick moisture.

A return or exchange policy is a must. Some sellers offer trial periods so you can return the blanket for a refund or exchange for a different weight.

A weighted blanket isn’t for everyone. Some people feel claustrophobic or uncomfortable. Dasgupta says watching what you eat and drink and creating good sleep habits such as setting specific sleep/wake times and sticking to them can often help as much as external sleep aids. Even more important, put away the technology. He implores, “Don’t be under a weighted blanket looking at your smartphone.”

Benefits of garden-based learning for children

The time you spend in the garden with your children is invaluable.

If you have children or work with children, then you probably have noticed that hands-on experiences help them make connections to the lessons they are learning. This is especially true when the lesson involves something you enjoy or have made a hobby out of, such as gardening. Hands-on learning experiences surround us if we take the time to look, and educational opportunities abound with a little ingenuity to turn daily tasks into lessons.

Help your children establish a sense of responsibility surrounding planning, caring for, and harvesting their own gardens. Older children can even get in on the spacial awareness, science, and finances behind it all. These lessons easily transfer to a larger picture: namely, how their own responsibilities and care of something living is integral to their attention to personal moral values as they grow.

Benefits of Children in the Garden

The benefits of children working in the garden have been studied for decades, with connections to independent learning and emotional growth identified as key potential effects. This could be due to the chores and tasks placed on young children early on in their development, which helps them gain a sense of importance and self-esteem, or even because of the confidence fostered by watching a plant grow and come to fruition under their close watch. No matter the study, the outcomes have reflected positively on children, which has led many educators to use gardens as part of their educational toolbox-a lesson that can be mimicked at home, as well.

  • Fine and Gross Motor Skill Development: Elementary age children can most definitely benefit physically from their involvement with working in the garden. The grasping, pilling, manipulating, and problem-solving that comes with holding tools is wonderful for learning how to work with their hands. This is also excellent for hand-eye coordination.
  • Engages the Senses: Children of all ages can engage in their senses to pay attention to their surroundings and make connections to their own actions within it. In a day and age where technology reigns and instant gratification is commonplace, the awareness of what they see, smell, and hear fall by the wayside. These are important details children need to find their place within it all as they grow.
  • Teaches Responsibility: Even small tasks create responsibility, but when working in the garden or yard, you can assign various jobs that are important to not only the garden but also the family. For example, not weeding or watering can kill a plant, leaving fewer plants to harvest. This means less food. Even winter can have tasks, such as clearing the porch or walkway with a small snowblower to ensure safety for those who cross it.
  • Encourages Healthy Choices: Getting your kids into the fresh air is obviously better than sitting in front of a screen, but kids who help in the garden are also more likely to appreciate the outdoors, making it a lifelong habit. If you grow fruits and veggies, they also are more likely to want to eat the “fruits of their labor” (pun intended) and make healthier eating choices. This also allows them to make connections between food and food cost as they get older.
  • Boosts Confidence: Anyone who has grown a plant understands their responsibility to it as a living organism. It needs care to flourish, and children very quickly grasp the concept of their own actions having an effect on their work. A positive sense of pride grows when children learn how they can coax a plot of dirt to yield beautiful things and understand that their own actions were behind this.
  • Develops Math and Science Skills: Being surrounded by nature involves you with biology and chemistry in a hands-on manner that can’t be taught sitting behind a desk. The math of the money that goes into a garden, as well as planning and planting, are all excellent practices to expose to children from a young age to help them see the practical purposes behind what they may learn in the classroom.

Ways to Get Children Involved

If this is all a new concept, then you might be stumped as to how to get your kids involved, but the following provides a few ideas to help spark their interest. Plus, the time you spend in the garden with your children is invaluable and can strengthen personal relationships, as well. Let children see that “work” isn’t just something to complain about, and allow their natural curiosity and idea of play to be a part of their involvement with the upkeep of your yard and garden.

  • Assign each child a task
  • Keep a chore chart with family reward time
  • Have personalized kid-sized tools
  • Allow them their own space to plant within
  • Let them choose their own plants
  • Help them make correlations between work and play

Holy schmeat! Beyond Meat has plans to make plant-based bacon and steak

Popular vegan meat brand Beyond Meat has plans to make plant-based bacon and steak, CNBC reports.

The brand became a favorite around the globe when it launched its iconic Beyond Burger, a vegan patty made from pea protein that looks, cooks, and tastes like beef – it even “bleeds,” thanks to the addition of beet juice.

Now, Beyond Meat has its sights set on other areas of the plant-based meat market. CEO Ethan Brown revealed to CNBC, “We want to make bacon, we want to make steak, we want to make the most intricate and beautiful pieces of meat.”

Meat-free bacon and steak are more difficult to produce than vegan ground meat products due to the foods’ structure, according to Ecovative, IKEA’s packaging supplier that used its mushroom technology to make vegan bacon. “When you talk to the folks who do plant-based burgers, the goal is to do a bacon cheeseburger,” the company said.

Beyond Meat has attracted a number of high-profile investors including Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio as well as players in the meat industry; Don Thompson, the former CEO of McDonald’s, and Tyson Foods, America’s largest meat processor.

Burger-lovers can now find the Beyond Burger in thousands of supermarkets across the United States including Whole Foods, Safeway, and Kroger, as well as restaurants like TGI Fridays and Carl’s Jr. Hotels and sports stadiums have gotten on board, too. Across the pond, the patty is a success in the UK where it is sold in leading supermarket Tesco and restaurant chain Honest Burgers, known for its meat-heavy burgers.

“[W]e’re reaching mainstream consumers that are interested in healthier forms of meat,” Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown told CNBC. Compared to traditional beef, the Beyond Burger offers more iron and more protein (20 grams worth). It also carries less saturated fat, total fat, and calories, and no cholesterol.
Since it launched the burger in 2016, Beyond Meat has sold 25 million burgers worldwide, according to CNBC. Ninety-three percent of people buying Beyond Meat products at supermarkets are meat eaters. “So they’re buying not only plant based meat, but they’re buying animal meat and that’s a really important breakthrough for us,” Brown said to CNBC.

Beyond Meat has not announced when it will launch its vegan bacon, but a number of brands already do. UK-based vegan meat brand SGaia, makes its streaky meat-free bacon from wheat and soy protein. Tofurky makes vegan bacon from tempeh and vegetarian brand Sweet Earth makes a hickory-smoked vegan bacon from seitan.

The new APA guidelines: A symbolic castration of men?

The anthropologist Margaret Mead famously quipped that a fundamental challenge for any culture is what to do with the young men. Without guidance, young men can become violent and destructive. In every society of which we have substantial knowledge, men are more likely than women to commit violent crimes.

This male/female disparity appears to hold not only across all known human cultures but across the primate order as well. Male chimpanzees engage in violence much more often than female chimpanzees do, and the male/female disparity in violence is larger among chimpanzees than among humans. For example, Jane Goodall and her colleagues found that adolescent male chimpanzees often kill and eat monkeys; adolescent female chimpanzees almost never kill monkeys, preferring a more vegetarian diet.

In the classroom, girls are more likely to seek to please the adult; boys are more likely to disregard or defy the adult. Again, this female/male disparity has been widely documented not only among humans but among chimpanzees in the wild as well. There is a growing disparity in academic achievement, with American boys falling behind their sisters. As a practicing family doctor, and also as a veteran of visits to more than 400 schools over the past 18 years, I have observed that many boys care more about getting to the next level in their video game than about doing well in school and pleasing the teacher. I recently wrote about a boy who stayed up till 3 AM on a school night playing video games. He refused to go to school the following morning, preferring to sleep in. His mother called 911 to ask the police to get her son out of bed. I have never encountered a girl who stayed up till 3 AM playing video games and refused to go to school the next day.

Men are more than three times as likely as women to commit suicide. And men are much less likely than women to seek professional help for mental health issues. For all these reasons and more, it makes sense for our nation’s largest association of psychologists, the American Psychological Association (APA), to issue evidence-based guidelines for working with boys and men. After all, the APA issued guidelines for working with girls and women in 2007. After 13 years of deliberation, a distinguished panel of psychologists recently issued those guidelines for men.

What a disappointment.

There are 10 guidelines in the APA publication. The first states that masculinity is a social construct. That assertion is politically correct. But it flies in the face of substantial research demonstrating that some typically masculine characteristics-such as risk-taking and the propensity for violence-are conserved across the primate order, from monkeys to chimpanzees, and therefore cannot be primarily a social construct (chimpanzees don’t watch The Sopranos). The APA guidelines never mention, let alone seek to refute, research on the innate basis for many traditionally masculine characteristics, such as risk-taking. Words such as “hardwired” and “innate” never appear. By contrast, “transgender” is mentioned 60 times! The authors’ favorite men, it would seem, are those who were born female.

A central message of the APA guidelines is that traditional masculinity is “harmful,” both for the traditionally-masculine male himself, and for those unfortunate enough to come in contact with him. As a summary of the guidelines on the APA website states, “The main thrust of the subsequent research is that traditional masculinity-marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression-is, on the whole, harmful.” Enlightened psychologists should, therefore, “help clients develop awareness of systems that assume cisgender masculinity expression is the expected norm” and “model gender-egalitarian attitudes and behaviors” (page 10 of the guidelines) in an effort to convert traditionally-masculine men into enlightened, gender-egalitarian men.

Stetson University psychologist Chris Ferguson notes that the guidelines’ emphasis on trying to get traditionally-masculine men to become something other than what they are is reminiscent of the “conversion” therapies of decades past, which sought to convert homosexual men into heterosexual men. The authors of the APA guidelines present no evidence that their conversion therapy for masculine men would be effective.

The new guidelines triggered a hostile backlash, as the authors might have anticipated if they were not so thoroughly insulated in their echo chamber. Taken aback by the negative press, last week, the APA issued a feeble attempt at spin, insisting that the guidelines were not targeting traditional masculinity but only those men who try “to get [their] needs met through violence, dominance over others, or extreme restrictions of emotions.” But, as conservative commentator David French pointed out in response to the APA spin, the guidelines themselves clearly do target traditional masculinity-including being adventurous, taking risks, and wanting to feel strong-not merely the outlier men who are abusive.

Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman served in the United States Army as a Ranger, then taught psychology at West Point. In his book On Combat, Grossman divides humans into three categories: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. The great majority of us, certainly more than 90%, are sheep: people with no propensity to violence. (Count me among the sheep.) We do not enjoy violence and we avoid it. Among the minority of humans who do have a propensity to violence, most are men. Those men can choose to be either sheepdogs or wolves. The wolves prey on the sheep. The sheepdogs use their propensity to violence to defend the sheep. Grossman notes that you are not born as a sheepdog or a wolf: you make a choice. One job of society is to train men with a propensity to violence to become sheepdogs rather than wolves. (Grossman’s trope of “sheep/sheepdog/wolf” was made famous by a scene in American Sniper, which quoted Grossman without attribution.)

The authors of the APA guidelines show no awareness of the distinction between sheepdog and wolf. Instead, the guidelines very nearly equate being a traditional man with being a wolf: a Harvey Weinstein, a sexual harasser, a bully, a violent criminal. Nowhere in the guidelines do the authors show awareness that society depends on sheepdogs. Without police, without soldiers, without heroic warriors, society becomes vulnerable to the wolves among us. In recommending that males be indoctrinated in “gender-egalitarianism,” the APA guidelines sound suspiciously like castration.

The APA guidelines are also disconnected from reality. Missing from the guidelines is any smidgeon of evidence that psychologists who preach to male clients about “cisgender masculinity privilege” or “gender-egalitarian attitudes and behaviors” will have any salutary effect at all. The most likely effect of such attempts at indoctrination will simply be to drive men out of the psychologists’ offices and to discourage men from becoming psychologists. That trend is already well underway. Among American psychologists 61 to 70 years of age, the male/female ratio is almost precisely 50/50. Among American psychologists 31 to 35 years of age, women now outnumber men by more than 8 to 1, according to the APA’s own data.

Years ago, I visited a boys’ school in Maryland. The school counselor, Judy Collins, didn’t quote Dave Grossman. But she knew all about the distinctions he made. She said, “You can’t turn a bully into a flower child. But you can turn him into a knight.” Her motto: “Affirm the knight.”

I suggest that the APA rewrite the guidelines. They might start by hiring Judy Collins to chair the committee.

Leonard Sax MD Ph.D. is the author of four books for parents, including Boys Adrift: the five factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men (Basic Books). Republished with permission from the Institute for Family Studies blog.