Posted by: Harold Knight | 06/25/2011

Is it Low Testosterone?

Low testosterone?

Low testosterone?


Millions of men 45 and older just don’t feel like they used to.



Please, please, please give me a shot of testosterone.

When I was in college, someone carried out a psycho-physiological study of male singing students.

These psycho physiologists devised a scale of masculinity to discover if masculine men had lower voices than effeminate men. Were manly men basses? One of my friends was part of the study. He was effeminate (a drag queen). But he had a full thick beard and could bench press 300 pounds. He was also gay and out—before Stonewall (pretty brave, if bravery has anything to do with masculinity). He had the lowest and most stentorian voice in the student body.  Oh well. So much for science.

If you watch TV more than an hour per week, you’ve seen the 45-year-old guy (slightly graying, a bit over weight, intense fairly good looks) telling the world that he has LowT (not that he does, but that you might). Don’t blame your lack of masculinity on age any more than you’d blame your tenor voice on lack of manliness.

I’m aging—66, and I just don’t feel like I used to. My own fault. I’m overweight. I sit at this computer about eight hours a day more than I should. I’m a recluse. And (not my fault) I take powerful drugs to control my seizure disorder and my (presumed) bi-polar disorder.

However, I’m attending yoga class three days a week, and three days I walk two miles on the treadmill (can’t walk outside in Dallas). I square dance. Yes, me—two nights a week. I’ve started volunteering at a food bank. I read (real reading, novels not research) as many hours in one day as I watch TV—reading first.

Am I desperate? You bet. First, I’ve let myself go to ruin since my partner died seven years ago. (That’s a psychological reality too complex to explain here.) Second, my mother died with Alzheimer’s when she was 92. One of her brothers died of complications of Alzheimer’s. Is dementia hereditary?

Ninety-two, you say? Yes, and my father is 96. His father died at 92. My great-grandparents lived to an average age of 76 years (my father’s maternal grandfather died at 77 in an automobile accident or that average would be higher). My grandparents lived to an average age of 79 years (my maternal grandfather died under mysterious conditions at 61 or that would be higher). And you’re worried about longevity, you ask me?

No, it’s not longevity I worry about. It’s meaning. And not the kind of meaning AndroGel from Abbott Labs to reverse LowT can provide. I’m pretty sure I don’t have LowT.

The modern quest for longevity. . .  has little or no connection with religion or ethics. The issue is simply to achieve immortality or as close as we might get to that. . . by whatever scientific means are available. Whereas the ancients coupled long life with piety, the moderns have dropped the discourse of virtue and piety. . . The recommendation to abhor tobacco and alcohol for the Puritan divines was aimed at avoiding damnation not choked arteries and failing coronary pumps (1).

Low testosterone?

Low testosterone?

I’m not interested in avoiding damnation or in immortality. What I am interested in seems  pretty simple: I’d like to know my time on this lovely speck in the universe has been authentic, whatever a creature of the species homo sapiens is meant to be and do I have been and done.

At its most basic, I suppose that means I’ve had food and shelter enough to keep me alive through the natural span of my life. Other than that, I’m not sure. I know it has nothing to do with how much money I have, how many smart-gadgets I have, or what cruises I’ve taken. I am absolutely certain it has nothing to do with how many Taliban have been killed in my name or what flag I pledge allegiance to.

My being an authentic member of the species homo sapiens probably means no other member of the species has gone without food and shelter to live out her natural life because of my over indulgence. Perhaps it’s a good thing if I’m over 45 or older and I just don’t feel like [I] used to. Especially if what I used to feel seems now to be far removed from what a member of the species homo sapiens is meant to feel.

I’d like to be sure enough what a member of the species homo sapiens is meant to be (of course, that begs the question, “meant by whom or what?” but I’m not going there today) to state something with certainty, such as

An Elder is . . .  an older person who has consciously chosen several important things. First, he has accepted the fact that he is aging and is in the latter half of life. Next, he has chosen to squarely face the prospect of his own death, to reflect on what that means to him, and to be more comfortable with the approaching reality. Finally, he has publicly declared that he will live out the rest of his life in service to the larger community (2).

I’ve made the first two choices. The third, I’m not so sure of. Is it part of what a member of the species homo sapiens is meant to be or do? The larger community?

Social interest means . . . feeling with the whole . . . under the aspect of eternity. It means striving for a form of community thought to be everlasting . . . It is never a present-day community or society, nor a political or religious form. Rather the goal which is best suited for perfection would have to be a goal which signifies the ideal community of all mankind, the fulfillment of evolution (3).

A goal which signifies the ideal community of all mankind. I’m going square dancing tonight. With a group of people I’m not really comfortable with. Yet. Nice folks, becoming friends. I doubt many of them think about Albert Adler’s psychological theories. But they know they just don’t feel like they used to, and they understand that’s probably the way our species is supposed to feel. I don’t want to admit it, but the simple reality of being with those people feels right. It doesn’t feel like the ideal community of all mankind. In fact, it’s a long way from basic food and shelter. I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like “a form of community thought to be everlasting.” But perhaps it’s about the best we can do while we’re here on this lovely speck of the universe.

I don’t have LowT or a stentorian bass voice, but I have “chosen to squarely face the prospect of [my] own death, to reflect on what that means to [me].” And being in community with other folks somehow helps me face the prospect. Go figure.
(1). Turner, Bryan. “Longevity, Ancient and Modern.” Society 46.3 (2009): 260.
(2) Kuffner, Ken. The elder path. Unpublished manuscript. Houston, TX: Kuffner Estate (2005). Quoted in Linden, George W. “Special Essay: An Adlerian View of Aging.” Journal of Individual Psychology 63.4 (2007): 387-398.
(3) AdIer, Alfred.  Superiority And Social Interest: A Collection Of Later Writings. New York: W. W. Norton, 1979. Quoted in Linden.


  1. […] It is a horrible thing. Its purpose is totally obscure, unknowable, crazy-making, infuriating. Aging. Not quite as infuriating as cancer because it is a “natural” process we all experience if we […]



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