Emotional Illiteracy in homeless men – what was their experience as boys?


Since reading and writing more about the result of denying boys and men their feelings and not developing their emotional literacy, I’ve been looking at the homeless men in my neighbourhood more.

Studies of men, especially those who have had their emotional responses squelched and denied when they were boys, show that they are at greater risk of committing suicide and of leading lonely, isolated lives when old. 

The homeless men I see have a rangy, mangy appearance and an energy about them that makes me shy away from them. There seem to be more of them than there are homeless women even though old women make up one of the largest percentage of the poor. They usually don’t make eye-contact and are in their own little world, sometimes muttering to themselves as they move through the alleys and streets looking for stuff to use or sell. And I don’t feel as comfortable talking to them as I do to the homeless women who don’t feel so strange to me – just poor. 

Having lived in the same city for many years, I’ve been surprised to see not-very-old men homeless men who I vaguely remember as younger men.  Although I didn’t know them personally and am not sure I really remember them, I have a vague recollection of feeling they were strange at that time. It  is disconcerting to see them 20 years later in their more obviously decrepit state and I wonder what their lives were like as children and what has brought them to this point today.

 

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