Superman knew a thing or two about X-ray vision, changing in a phone box and flying around the world to turn back time. But why did he need a fortress of solitude?
One argument is that being the only known survivor of his race Clark Kents’s racier alter ego felt the need to be alone with his thoughts. Melancholy comes easily to the man who feels apart from others. But perhaps this feeling of being apart from others is a common sensation for men.
Men are three times less likely than women to seek help for mental distress. They are far more likely to drink or sink into drugs as a way of putting off emotions that trouble them. The long term consequences of ignoring those troubling feelings is either to increase the use of addictive substances or to work harder maintaining a public face.
While changes are slowly beginning to take hold men are still for the most part reluctant to talk about their feelings. Both class and socialisation are responsible for the ingrained view that ‘real men’ just press on and don’t open up. The hyper-masculine posturing of men such as Donald Trump, Jose Mourino and Jacob Rees-Mogg all distort the face of masculinity bringing out its toxic public side and referencing out opportunities for sensitivity and reflection.
In such a climate its clear to see why the personal ‘fortress of solitude’ we keep within has its uses. But it’s not an end point. To remain locked within such a space can mean failing to see that there are other men who feel the same way too. So, when you’re ready, step out from the fortress and reach out for help: others will follow.