Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Midlife Crisis, Andropause, and Cyberphobia in Life of Aging Man

A claim that middle-aged men are falling foul of a new condition called cyberphobia is simply dressing up an already-acknowledged condition of maturing man, expressed in the scientific language, commonly acceptable in the modern society. George Lotter, the director of a pastoral counseling center near Johannesburg, told a conference on marriage that cyberphobia is an all-consuming jealousy of an aggressive, successful young man whose success may induce a midlife crisis in older colleagues.  This crisis may destroy a man's marriage, his job and his happiness.  Professor Lotter uses the word to describe the jealousy, and all that stems from it, of a middle-aged man when a younger "star" threatens to upset the established hierarchy.  The young smart geek, with all the advantages of having testosterone surging around his virile body, further undermines the older man's confidence by actually understanding how computers work and the intricacies of the Internet.

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The term cyberphobia might be quite applicable to the Hi-Tech World of the Silicon Valley, but in general terms, it presents more generic aging man complex - the constant battle of an old warrior to maintain his power and position, and one which he is bound to lose, the battle which can be applied to any profession, line of activities, or geographical community, including those, who have not experienced the power of computers yet.  According to Professor Lotter, a man knows when he is entering the male menopause, or developing a midlife crisis, because he develops cyberphobia.  But the terms "male menopause" and "midlife crisis" are not synonymous, while these terms are frequently used interchangeably by general public, in media, and even by the professionals.

In multiple cases, the confusion on distinguishing between midlife crisis and andropause (male menopause) causes the understanding misconception and prevents either condition from being recognized or treated adequately.

Loss of vitality and fluctuation of virility level are the primary symptoms of andropause. This is due to the changes in production of the male sex hormones. In most cases, this predicament occurs at the age of 45 up to 55. But before the occurrence of andropause, there comes the mid-life crisis.

Dr. Malcolm Carruthers, the author of the book Maximizing Manhood: Beating male menopause explained the difference and occurrence of mid-life crisis and andropause. These two distinct stages among males are often confused as one. In its real essence, these two are linked with each other since mid-life crisis happens between 35-45 years old right before the andropause period. However, andropause may come early depending on how bad a man reacts to his mid-life crisis. Or, that it could be delayed if he had sustained a healthy and active lifestyle before this period.

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Differences between Midlife Crisis and Andropause

Let's run through a check-list to spell out the differences:

  • Age - The Mid-life Crisis usually is confined to the ages of 35 to 45, while the Male Menopause is characteristically 45 to 55, as with the female menopause. However, if there was previous damage to the testes, such as from mumps, alcohol or vasectomy, the Male Menopause may happen earlier. There might be significant cultural and ethnical differences in the age of midlife crisis and menopause, but we will discuss them in the following publications in more details.

  • Childhood - A disturbed, unsupportive childhood starved of love and affection, especially if accompanied by physical or mental abuse, is much more common in the background of someone experiencing the Midlife Crisis.

  • Triggers - The death or serious illness of a parent or close friend is a common trigger of the Midlife Crisis, as such events bring you face to face with your own mortality. They make you feel that you are next in the firing-line, which brings up thoughts and feelings about the meaning of your life, and your past, present and future goals and achievements.
Paradoxically this crisis can come after a period of success even more often than after a dismal failure. It may even come when you find the love of your life, either in a person or an occupation, but feel it is too late or an impossible dream. As the word suggests, it is decision time, but you agonize over the choices. You consider changing your job, your partner or your whole way of life. By contrast, the Menopause comes after redundancy, after heavy financial losses, after the business has failed, after divorce, rather than during the period leading up to them.

·         Relationships - The Crisis is by its nature often very much about personal and business relationships. Questions about whether you want to go living with that person, or working with another, or in that organization, are often uppermost in your mind. You think about them again and again, and you even may dream about them again and again at night.
During the Menopause, you are more likely to feel too weary to want to make any changes, and too tired to even dream about doing so. Because of this lethargy, your marriage and business relationships may be falling to pieces around you, but you feel powerless to do anything about it.

·         Sex-drive - This is most often increased during the Crisis, either as a form of escapism, or as a conscious or subconscious way of bringing matters to a head. Sometimes however when a man is depressed by these events, as with other forms of depression, the libido may decrease. With the Menopause the libido is almost always decreased, though occasionally there may be an affair to try to revive fading sexual powers.

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·         Potency - As with most things there are few absolute rules about this, but apart from obvious physical causes such as diabetes, or the side effects of medicines such as those used to lower blood pressure or treat depression, or where triggered by severe psycho-sexual problems, only during the Menopause is potency consistently decreased over several months or years.

·         Physical Symptoms - Fatigue, aches, pains and stiffness in the joints, nights sweats and other physical symptoms which are typical of the Menopause are usually absent in the Crisis.

·         Hormone Patterns - These are nearly always normal during the Crisis, unless there is deep depression or heavy drinking. Though total testosterone is often normal during the Menopause, the free, biologically active testosterone is typically decreased. There are also often other more subtle markers of this condition to confirm the diagnosis which can be found by careful and extensive hormone profiles of the blood.

·         Responses to treatment - The treatment of the Crisis is mainly by counseling and support to help the person resolve the issues which are troubling them. Tranquillizers or antidepressants can occasionally be effective for short term treatment if anxiety or depressions are overwhelming. However they can be addictive, and actually delay solving the problems which life has thrown up.


Midlife crisis is often a time in life when stability has been achieved and the struggles that were once a large part of life are now at an end. This new awareness that a life change has taken place can sometimes trigger a crisis. For some men, new-found stability may signify an end to vitality or youth. Many men find that after spending a lifetime working towards the goals of family and peers, the end result is unfulfilling. This is also often a time of change. Major shifts in career, marriage and parenting often occur during this time period. And, along with the physical signs of aging comes a realization of impending old age, retirement and eventually death. This time of life will only become a crisis if the changes become too difficult to cope with.

Midlife crisis, thus, is essentially a problem of psycho-social adjustment. It need not necessarily have a bearing on a man's sex life. It is thus not synonymous with the male menopause although there is frequently a superimposition of male menopausal factors in middle-aged men going through crises and this makes the picture hazy.

Male menopause, on the other hand, is a distinct physiological phenomenon that is in many ways akin to, yet in some ways quite different from the female menopause. Understanding the andropause - the male menopause, as opposed to the midlife crisis - is more straightforward, as changes affecting the physique can be measured.  Doctors can determine how much testosterone the testes are producing and how hard the pituitary gland is having to work to keep testosterone flowing.  It is a grave mistake to assume that the only evidence of testosterone failure is increasing evidence of "brewer's droop".  Low testosterone levels are often an important part of advancing impotence, but there are many more direct physical causes for it which are of greater importance.

Both conditions are linked to the natural aging mechanism of men, and proper self-awareness of what going on with your mind and body will help you to get prepared to what is going to happen. Being prepared and being ready for the change will allow you not only survive, but also flourish and enjoy these life stages.

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