My relation to David Deida: I am very envious, as he is obviously a superior man, and I am not 😞.
And yet, when he writes about sex (as in "Finding God through Sex"), there are many good and valuable thoughts. My very female-identified partner sais so!
But when one listens on Youtube to the snippets on Youtube seminars...it´s sometimes hard to believe that a thinker of his stature utters such psychologically and relationally unformed nonsense. Not only is it uninformed. It is dangerous.
I recently listened to a few videos by David Deida. He is the well-known spiritual sex and relationship coach/teacher, according to his website.
Deida wrote some good stuff which helped a lot of men and women at some time in their life. And often his statements are quite usefully provocative. Also, luminaries like Ken Wilber praised him. But then, Wilber praised some odd people in his life.
Deida's focus on presence, for example, is helpful. Even if he occasionally goes over the top even with this.
But I stumbled when I came across the following exemplary dialogue in one of his Youtube seminar snippets:
She: you have a small dick, you are a loser and I hate you. He: I love it when you call me small dick.
According to Deida, in this great dialogue, he is demonstrating the ideal behaviour of the "superior man". Huh?
Deida uses this dialogue to illustrate the typical and apparently to be expected communication between femininity and masculinity (the superior man).
She, the subtly vicious: is run by emotions, full of wild energy, and always out to "test" her man whether can be like a rock in the stormy ocean, whatever she throws at him as an expression of feelings (not necessarily to solve things).
He, the superior man: is calm, quiet, unmovable, nothingness, conscious. Even godlike!
Having recently had some education in couple coaching, the dialogue provoked in me the question: "what would some famous couple coaches and scientists say?"
Terry Real: a classical couple therapist whose "Relational Life Therapy" (RLT) is a no-nonsense, side-taking, joining-through-the-truth approach. I use Terry to illustrate that David Deida invites couples into losing strategies.
David Schnarch (deceased 2020): in the same direct and confrontational line, David Schnarch´s sex therapy focuses on the need for differentiation and independence in a couple. I use David Schnarch to show that differentiation is something else than Deida´s polarity-gone-wrong.
Lisa Feldman Barret: she recently acquired public visibility for the direct attack on long-cherished ideas in psychology: the triune brain, that emotions are fixed, and also that men and women differ in their degree of emotionality.
More hair-raising nonsense from live Deida seminars
Here are a few more of David Deida´s hair-raising quotes from the online videos.
Masculine men have no feelings [this is the strong version of "A masculine lover will be emotionally narrow, relatively unaware of your feelings" in "Blue Truth" ]
As soon as an emotion comes in for men, this registers as pain
The polarity is energy and consciousness (where he owns consciousness fully)
The more conscious a masculine man is, the less content there is...until literally you (ie the woman) are his entire content
Your demand to share his energy with you is like pure abuse
If you want his energy you make him into a woman
When a guy is afraid it's because you are not being nothing
Very few men know how to love you and to touch you at the same time
Love feels to him like total relaxation, so it feels like zero
The masculine value is peace
The female is "killing violence destruction death"
A gem from a seminar for men
In one of the videos, he actually and literally speaks of
Her own neurotic need to be in charge
Statements like this, of course, earn him Amazon reviews like "worst crap ever written".
Femininity has no orientation in time and space
This is from "The Way of the Superior Man". According to Deida, "the masculine" - as opposed to the feminine- lives in a grid of time and space. Not so the feminine. From this unproven hypothesis, Deida concludes the following: she will never forgive you.
Let´s assume, you - the masculine in the relationship - have not met a commitment. And let's further assume that this is the first time in 30 years that this happened.
According to Deida, your wife ("if she is in her feminine") will not remember that you kept your commitment to 99.99%. This is because she only lives in the now. She will feel deep distrust all over her body, and, of course, not want to have sex with you.
And as usual, he has to protect his statements about actual observable behaviour by qualifying it by an IF statement: "IF she is in her feminine / IF he is in his masculine".
Thus, if you - as a woman - were to protest that you ARE aware of the 99.999% of commitments held by your partner,he can say "but only because you were in your masculine". This is, of course, only a rhetorical trick.
There is nothing in empirical neurological research that could confirm his statements. He talks about unverifiable "essence", not about anything.
One could also say, that this argument is the "True Scotsman Fallacy".
A: "A Scotsman never beats his wife"
B: "But Peter beat his wife recently, and he is a Scotsman"
A: "Peter isn´t a true Scotsman".
Anyway, now to our other therapists, coaches and scientists.
Terry Real: depression, boundaries and emotional barf bags
Terry Real would use this dialogue to illustrate key concepts of his work. For example, covert depression, boundary violations and losing strategies.
Don't talk (about it)
Most likely, Terry Real would translate Deida's statement "Masculine men have no feelings" into a diagnosis of alexithymia and covert depression.
While many of the men I treat report the classic symptoms of overt depression, feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair, many more experience depression as a state of numbness, which is known in psychiatry as alexithymia. This experience of depression is not about feeling bad so much as about losing the capacity to feel at all. P 55
And, rather than seeing the root of this as "essence":
Traditional gender socialization in our culture asks both boys and girls to “halve themselves.” Girls are allowed to maintain emotional expressiveness and cultivate connection. But they are systematically discouraged from fully developing and exercising their public, assertive selves—their “voice,” as it is often called. Boys, by contrast, are greatly encouraged to develop their public, assertive selves, but they have systematically pushed away from the full exercise of emotional expressiveness and the skills for making and appreciating deep connection.
Men do not have readily at hand the same level of insight into their emotional lives as women, because our culture works hard to dislocate them from those aspects of themselves. Men are less used to voicing emotional issues, because we teach them that it is unmanly to do so. Even a cursory look at gender socialization in our culture indicates that a man would be far more likely to act out distress than to talk about it, while a woman would have the skills, the community, and the ease to discuss her problems.
Terry Real describes boundaries from two perspectives:
containment boundaries: the behavioral boundaries one imposes on oneself.
protective boundaries: the boundaries one sets up for one´s own protection.
Deida´s couple doesn´t know about either.
She cannot control her emotions. Her excuse: "I am feminine, my emotions made me do it".
He takes refuge into spiritual bypassing and a kind of relational sado-masochism: "I am nothingness, nothing can hurt / reach me. The more I am kicked, the more I love her".
In therapy, Terry Real might be tempted to label her up one, grandiose woman, and him walled off man.
Losing strategies: the emotional barf-bag approach
There is a set of behaviors that will set the relationship up to lose: one of them is unbridled self-expression. Real elsewhere describes it as emotional barf-bag approach: "urgg... here you have it .. now I feel better". The abusive language used above certain is an example of emotional barf-bag.
Here is the full list of losing strategies:
Needing to be right
Controlling your partner
According to Deida, femininity is always tempted to fall into these behaviors, if not crudely, then as subtly vicious, a term for which he has a special liking as characterisation of femininity.
David Schnarch: differentiation vs polarity
David Schnarch (decease 2020) was well known sex therapist. His insights are often transferrable to general issues or conflicts in the relationship.
4 points of balance
David Schnarch has trademarked his "4 points of balance"... but don´t worry it does not mean that you have to pay him to have a Solid Flexible Self!
These 4 points of balance are actually a more precise version of what in an earlier book he called differentiation: the ability to keep one´s mind and the nervous system stable, even when the partner gets into a state of high arousal.
Solid Flexible Self™—the ability to be clear about who you are and what you’re about, especially when your partner pressures you to adapt and conform.
Quiet Mind–Calm Heart™—being able to calm yourself down, soothe your own hurts, and regulate your own anxieties.
Grounded Responding™—the ability to stay calm and not overreact, rather than creating distance or running away when your partner gets anxious or upset.
Meaningful Endurance™—being able to step up and face the issues that bedevil you and your relationship, and the ability to tolerate discomfort for the sake of growth.
What would David Schnarch say to the proposition, that Quiet Heart and Grounded Responding are expressions of masculinity only?
Obviously, David Schnarch would relegate most of David Deida's statements to the waste bin.
Lisa Feldman Barret : women are not more emotional than men
Let´s look at Deida´s proposition that women are emotional, and truly masculine men have no feelings.
The problem with this is, that it is empirical nonsense - it is a myth. To get the idea, you can listen to a video by Deida, and to a podcast by Lisa Feldman Barret .
The video starts approximately where she talks about male and female emotions.
If you didn't have the time to listen: if one does not rely on self-assessment, but investigates scientifically, the myth that women are more emotional is busted.
In a way, given his polarity thinking, Deida is a kind of spiritually enriched version of John Gray´s concept of "Men are from Mars Women from Venus", which was hugely influential 20 years ago. More recently, Gray reiterated many of the points in "Beyond Mars and Venus", a book entirely based on a hormonal influence theory.
Here are two quotes by Gray that sound like written by Deida. They imply that one should better not talk to men about their feelings and that they men better do not talk about emotions either. Instead, Gray suggests, men should better use "cave time" to watch TV or meditate (thank you Gray and Deida for equating these...)
Sometimes a woman on her male side will attempt to connect with a man by getting him to open up and talk about his feelings. When this is the case, he will be pushed further to his female side and eventually display the side effects of his imbalance.
For a woman, talking about feelings is one of the most powerful ways to return to her female side and rebuild the female hormones that lower her stress. For a man, one of the best ways for him to cope with stress is to stop talking so much and take some cave time to let his body produce the male hormone that lowers his stress.
Here is the point: neither Gray nor Deida deem it necessary to bring along a single piece of scientific evidence. And, we end up with reinforced prejudices and clichés, and often enough with bad advice..
So, do superior third stage men have feelings / emotions?
Of course they have. They have just learned to not express them in the same way as women.
But men have largely the same brains as women. Their bodies react. They may just label differently, based on education, or express o4 suppress them differently, according to the situation.
It's a shame that Deida, in the reviewed material, has taken so little notice of topics like attachment and trauma.
This is an encouragement for me to read "Blue Truth" again. On my way to superior man status. Maybe something has changed in his thinking.
"The straightjacket of David Deida" (Gaddis)
Jayson Gaddis, who states that he also benefitted from Deida, has written a concide critique of Deida.
I like in particular Jason Gaddis' "deida-bot" criticism in "The straight jacket of David Deida":
many men try to impersonate Deida, without having the personal foundation to live up to it. And women may end up with completely unrealistic expectation towards their man.
Furthermore, Jason sais, Deida may be fine for the infatuation phase of relationships. But it will break apart for any longterm relationship. Trying to emulate Deida can become a massively stressful experience for the average couple.
Another Deida criticism I agree with states, that one should not read Deida as rational discourse. Rather, it is a kind of flowery and inspiring poetry, talking in archetypes and abstractions rather than real people psychology. However, it´s then a personal choice of the reader/listener to base their take on science or personal poetry.
Deida´s adepts: Deida gone horribly wrong
Unfortunately, Deida has spawned an industry of "polarity" thinkers, coaches etc who take the concept to extremes. Here is an example.
Thank you to John Wyman who some time ago warned to not "weaponise" polarity - a very real danger.
RATHER THAN WEAPONIZE THE TERMS "MASCULINE" AND "FEMININE" AGAINST YOURSELF AND OTHERS, FOCUS INSTEAD ON HOW YOU WANT TO BE UNIQUELY EXPRESSED AS A HUMAN BEING ON THE PLANET, AND PRACTICE TRANSMITTING THAT THROUGH YOUR BODY INTO THE WORLD.
David Deida (Blue Truth)
Deida, D. (2006). Blue Truth. SOUNDS TRUE INC.
David Deida (Dear Lover)
Deida, D. (2005). Dear Lover. Sounds True Inc.
David Deida (Freedom Love)
Deida, D. (2021, March 22). David Deida - He Wants Freedom She Wants Love [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74TRMuVaF2I&feature=youtu.be
David Deida (What do men feel)
Deida, D. (2018, May 1). ‘What Do Men Feel?’ by David Deida (Author of ’The Way of the Superior Man’) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8Ed03gtfIA&feature=youtu.be
David Deida (Superior Man)
Deida, D. (2017). The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire (Reprint ed.). Sounds True Inc.
Ken Wilber and David Deida
Wilber, K., & Deida, D. (n.d.). Sexual Kinks in Consciousness (David Deida and Ken Wilber). SoundCloud. https://m.soundcloud.com/integrallife/sexual-kinks-in-consciousness-david-deida-and-ken-wilber
Gaddis, J. (2020, December 7). The Straightjacket of David Deida. JaysonGaddis.Com. https://www.jaysongaddis.com/the-straightjacket-of-david-deida/
John Gray (Beyond Mars)
Gray, J. (2020). Beyond Mars and Venus: Relationship Skills for Today’s Complex World. BenBella Books.
Lisa Feldman Barret (How Emotions are Made)
Feldman-Barrett, L. (2018). How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain (Main Market ed.) [E-book]. Pan.
Mark Manson (Rise and Fall)
Manson, M. (2022, January 20). The Rise and Fall of Ken Wilber. Mark Manson. https://markmanson.net/ken-wilber
Terry Real (Website)
Real, T. (2022, August 9). Home. Terry Real. https://terryreal.com/
Terry Real (Fierce Intimacy)
Real, T. (2018). Fierce Intimacy. Sounds True.
Real, T. (1998). I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression (FIRESIDE ed.). Scribner.
Schnarch, D. (2020). Intimacy & Desire: Awaken The Passion In Your Relationship. Independently published.
Wineland, J. (2020, October 1). Do Not Weaponize the Terms ‘Masculine’ and ‘Feminine’. John Wineland. https://www.johnwineland.com/blog/2020/9/21/do-not-weaponize-the-terms-masculine-and-feminine?rq=weaponise