• Bert Pepper

About men, and a few other things

Updated: Nov 4, 2019

My life has been varied, interesting, and challenging. When young I gave direct, simple explanations for why I did what I did, why you did what you did. and why others did what they did. Over time many inconsistencies challenged those direct, simple but wrong explanations. A deeper exploration and understanding of motivations became one of my challenges: what made me, you, my friends, my patients, do things that in hindsight were doomed from the beginning?

As a boy I foolishly rejected the idea that my parents, immigrants who had survived terrible experiences, had any influence on my choices and decisions. While still a boy I thought of myself as a self-made man.

In my 20s I still thought I was a self-made man: sincere, energetic, ambitious, strongly motivated to become a doctor… and still very naïve. Despite the many times than I’d been challenged by hierarchy among men, I competed to rise without being aware that that's what I was doing. When anyone pointed out that I was competitive I said “No, I only compete against myself.” It wasn't until my 40s that I realized that although I got ahead because I was smart and hard-working, that was by no means the whole story.

Experiences that were painful and difficult to understand were quickly buried in an obscure corner of my mind. For example, when I was 12, soon after becoming a Boy Scout, another boy and I were threatened, humiliated, and shamed by four senior scouts. They took down our pants and underpants and threatened to castrate us. The scoutmaster saw it happening and nodded his consent. Terrified, traumatized, and not knowing what to do with the experience, I told no one and buried it for 28 years. But I never forgot it.

When I was 40, a series of troubling dreams that acted like a Time Machine brought me back to that traumatic event. The dreams guided me toward an understanding of what my Boy Scout experience meant, from a personal and from a larger perspective. The dreams taught me about the dominant role of hierarchy in boys and men's lives: in this case the Scoutmaster was at the top of the local Boy Scout Hierarchy. He condoned my frightening initiation into the bottom of the hierarchy. That put the scouts who did it higher than me but lower than the Scoutmaster.

When I was 15 two friends and I were taken to a whorehouse by two middle-aged male relatives. This was another distressing experience. It took me into my 40s to understand it as another example of male hierarchy at work. I'll go beyond this headline and spell it out in detail in a blog post as we grow this website.

There will also be pieces on other subjects, but none on politics.

I hope that this website triggers ideas, thoughts, reactions, and memories in you, the reader. Comments and contributions are welcome. Whatever you write may be published here, if I think it contributes to these questions. Send them to: bert@bertpeppermd.com

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