Len D. McCoy

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Within psychology there has been a historic lack of literature on male development at the social, personal and intrapsychic levels. This is currently being remediated somewhat, but large voids still exist. Not only is male development under-represented, but there is even less research on the development and attributes of men's same-sex friendships. This study describes typical strengths and deficits in male friendships. The areas of deficit include the lack of emotional closeness many men experience with each other and the decline in friends that many men experience post-adolescence. An analysis of developmental and psychodynamic issues seeks to help illuminate the position many men are currently in: wanting or needing closer friendships with men but being unable to attain this. The theories of Freud, Erik Erikson, and Harry Stack Sullivan are used as foundational material in understanding male development as it relates to the concept of friendship. The early separation/ individuation period between mother and son, commonly referred to as "disidentification," is discussed, along with a brief review of the Oedipus Complex. Theoretical conceptualizations are offered which seek to explain the barriers men face in their intimate, non-sexual friendships. These are grouped around the categories of fear and competition. Specific fears are outlined, including the fear of attachment, the generalized fear of other males due to the lack of intimate attachment with the father, the fear of loss of autonomy, and the fear of homosexuality, or homophobia. The fears of men in friendship are understood as emanating from, or being influenced by, the disidentification period of development. Competitive hindrances to friendship are described and include the issues of masculine identity, intrapsychic splitting, and loss. Finally, critiques of the writer's ideas are discussed. Implications of this work are given and suggestions for future research are offered.