Therapist Adam Jukes: ‘I’ve heard horror stories to last a lifetime’

Adam Jukes who's written Is there A cure for Masculinity?

Adam Jukes who's written Is there A cure for Masculinity? - Credit: Archant

After decades working with violent men, therapist Adam Jukes is burnt out

Mild-manned Highgate psychotherapist Adam Jukes has made his name penning books about misogyny and violent men with controversial titles: Why Men Hate Women (1993), Men Who Batter Women (1998), and Is There A Cure for Masculinity? (2010).

By suggesting that all men consciously or unconsciously hate women, it’s not hard to see why his titles aren’t exactly popular with members of his own sex.

“I still get abusive emails from people – and the death threats, and the insults from keyboard warriors,” admits Jukes, who is director of the Men’s Centre in Swains Lane.

His latest work, What You’ve Got Is What You Want - Even If It Hurts (£11.99, Free Association Books), is his first not to focus specifically on men’s issues.

Instead, its main hypothesis is that people stuck in unhappy situations are responsible for their own actions and their own misery - and that deep down, they actually want to be unhappy because it is familiar, comfortable territory.

This shift in focus is down to a change in Jukes’ working life at his psychotherapy practice.

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After founding the Men’s Centre in 1984 to treat abusive men, he now rarely works with violent individuals.

“I’ve lost interest in working with violent people. It’s tiring. I’ve burnt out and heard enough horror stories to last three lifetimes,” says Jukes.

Despite this, Jukes inevitably finds his latest theory is best explained through a hypothetical abusive romantic relationship.

The unhappy lover who feels unsupported or resentful of their partner, he explains, will avoid responsibilty for their misery by trying to force the other person to change their behaviour.

This is engaging in what he calls “drama,” like sulking or arguing.

But by taking passive aggressive action, he says, the unhappy partner is unconsciously reverting to their “default” emotional state - usually feeling insecure or frightened.

In 40 per cent of cases, this stems from an unpleasant childhood experience, Jukes says.

“If you’re frightened and insecure as a child, the only place as an adult you’ll feel secure is if you’re frightened and insecure. It sounds mad, doesn’t it?”

Ultimately, Jukes’ “mad hypothesis” - so called because “frankly, it is mad” - surmises that the only way to escape the unhappy situation is to take responsibility.

Using a romantic relationship as an example again, he says: “If you’re in a relationship in which you are not loved, you have to face the reality that you’re not loved, and grieve that.”

Accepting that an unhappy situation won’t change unless we take action is a simple premise but unpicking the theory reveals its complicated foundations.

“Thinking is a form of behaviour, as is feeling,” Jukes explains. “What people think is thinking isn’t thinking at all. People don’t think about thinking - that’s the trouble - so my book is also to encourage people to think about thinking, because we think the way we think for a reason.

“And we think in the way we think in order to explain to ourselves why we’re about to do things.

“But our motives for doing things aren’t always what we think they are.”

Got that?

Although the title may suggest this is a self-help book, Jukes is adamant that it does not belong on the shelf beside your copy of Men Are From Mars - “because there’s nothing about standing on one leg and chanting”.

Instead, this is a strategy that would take a lot of self discipline and hard work, something Jukes freely acknowledges.

Recently, he treated a woman who was in an emotionally abusive relationship with her husband of 20 years.

Jukes told her to stop responding to his constant tirade of jealous questions if she wanted the abuse to stop.

She did, the abuse escalated - until one day, unable to provoke the reaction he craved, he had an emotional breakdown. The abuse stopped.

In light of this example, I ask if his stance on the prevalence of misogyny in society has changed since his 1993 seminal work.

The answer is an emphatic no.

“I haven’t changed my mind about a single thing in the book. My publishers wanted me to revise it and republish it but I haven’t got the heart.

“It’s a deeply flawed book in many ways, it’s sententious and there’s too much iteration, but in terms of what I think about misogyny - it hasn’t changed at all.”

What You’ve Got Is What You Want - Even If It Hurts is available on Amazon. freeassociationpublishing.