Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax, MD, PhD

I came across this book in a forgettable manner. I wanted to start adding content to my website again, and, after surfing the internet, I found a cluster of books relating to educational problems of boys. The title of this particular book caught my eye because I believe Dr. Sax visited my high school and spoke with parents about some of the topics in this book. I figured that I should educate myself with facts from a professional counselor, and I was very captured by the information and data Dr. Sax provided.

Boys Adrift is an enlightening reflection on the disheartening state of boys and men in America. Dr. Sax smoothly incorporates data into five major themes: Video Games, Teaching Methods, Prescription Drugs, Environmental Toxins, and the Devaluation of Masculinity, thereby making his work both informational and intriguing.

Primarily, the book highlights the infrequently-explored epidemic of what Dr. Sax calls “unmotivated” and “underachieving” young men. His Video Game section emphasizes the trend of boys and men spending entirely too much time in virtual worlds, which are more controllable, and therefore, more attractive to adrift boys and men. Additionally,  most online players of almost every game are also guys, which pulls in other guys in need of an environment that interests and appeals to them. As a result, scores of young boys to full-grown men are wasting prime and fundamental years of their lives doing little of value.

Teaching styles are often chastised by Dr. Sax because they heavily advantage young girls. Because male brains develop differently than female brains, a one-method-fits-all approach to teaching is not fitting, especially since the vast majority of teachers are females. In most schools, there is also an extreme focus on “knowledge of” and little attention on “knowledge to”, and learning knowledge of something is often not as lively as gaining knowledge to do something when boys are young. Therefore, when boys come to dislike school because they are not taught in productive manners, they disengage and set a precedent for later troubles achieving academic success.

Couple inappropriate teaching styles and faulty medical diagnoses, the next theme in the book. Many normal boys are being erroneously diagnosed with ADHD or ADD because they cannot focus in school. However, young boys are not programmed to sit still for long periods of time, and female teachers often fail to understand this axiom. As a result, children as young and 4 and 5 are being prescribed medicines like Adderall which are not only addictive, but also negatively impact the motivation center of one’s brain. These medicines tamper with boys’s abilities to maintain focus and possess perseverance.

Boys and men also endure environmental toxins often found in plastic products which lower levels of testosterone. Other male animals in various environments in which certain toxins are present have experienced a disappearance of male sex characteristics. Similar effects have been present with boys and men today who have significantly lower levels of sperm than their fathers and grandfathers. Other problems include irregular, underdeveloped testicles and inability to perform with women (also related to pornography). Unfortunately, testosterone levels also correlate with motivation levels…less testosterone means less motivation.

The last aspect Dr. Sax covers is the devaluation of masculinity. There used to be several different informal rituals/events that celebrated the transition of a boy into a man in popular American culture. Now, there is no clear distinction between boys and men because there is a loss of clarity as to how men are supposed to act. Additionally, there are fewer male role models for young boys to emulate, and so many boys are left to chaotically fend for their own. As family structures and support continue to weaken, boys are often confused and angry with a world unconcerned with their needs. Interestingly, there is also a dearth of quality male characters in popular media. When the majority of commercials involving men portray them as the bumbling idiots, the stereotype proliferates. If a boy cannot see quality male figures around him, it’s difficult for him to imagine how to properly act.

This only is a concise summary of Dr. Sax’s quality book. I urge you to read it because, if you are passionate about male issues, you will become entrenched in the pages as soon as you start reading.



Image from:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s