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Dr. Ryan McKelley, licensed psychologist and associate professor of psychology, discusses how the emotional masks that some boys and men wear can negatively impact their physical and psychology health. The talk begins with a 13th century experiment showing how crucial human contact is to our survival, and summarizes more recent studies on the importance of social connectedness. For example, several decades of epidemiological data suggest that social isolation is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease. McKelley argues that although men are stereotyped to be less emotionally expressive than women, their internal experiences tell a different story.

McKelley urges boys and men to do away with the mask. While there are situations where emotional restriction is necessary, it doesn’t need to be the default mode in all situations. He challenges people to eliminate phrases like “man up” or “stop acting like a girl”, and understand that opening up and being vulnerable is courageous. The talk ends with a call for men to take small risks to open up to give themselves a broader emotional experience and allow them to make deeper connections with others.

Or watch the complete video here (opens externally). It was filmed at TEDxUWLacrosse (University of Wisconsion, Lacrosse).


photo_McKelley_100x100Ryan McKelley, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.

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