The Female Brain (book)
|Publisher||Morgan Road Books|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
|Pages||187, 210 including notes.|
|LC Class||QP376 .B755 2006|
The Female Brain is a 2006 book by the American neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine. The main thesis of the book is that women’s behavior is different from that of men due, in large measure, to hormonal differences. Brizendine says that the human female brain is affected by the following hormones: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, (oxytocin), neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin), and that there are difference in the architecture of the brain (prefrontal cortex, hypothalamus, amygdala) that regulates such hormones and neurotransmitters.
The Female Brain includes seven chapters, each one of which is dedicated to a specific part of a woman’s life such as puberty, motherhood, and menopause, or a specific dimension of a women’s emotional life such as feelings, love and trust, and sex. The book also includes three appendices on hormone therapy, postpartum depression, and sexual orientation.
The book sold well but received mixed reviews, because there was some controversy from feminist writers about the validity of some the content. Some of the authors that supported the content of the book include:
- Deborah Tannen, of the Washington Post Tannen writes, "Throughout the book, I recognized biological accounts for social behaviors I had observed and written about." In a similar vein, she adds, "Anthropologists and linguists who have studied children at play have noted that girls form bonds by telling secrets. Here, too, Brizendine finds 'a biological reason.'" Her ultimate position is one of cautionary endorsement: "Ideally, readers will sift through the case studies, research findings and scientific conjectures gathered in this non-technical book and be intrigued by some while questioning others, bearing in mind the caution that hormones and brain structure play a role in gender differences but are not the whole story."
- Sarah Hrdy, author of Mother Nature
- Daniel Goleman author of Emotional Intelligence
Some of the authors that criticized the content of the book include:
- Evan Balaban and Rebecca M. Young, in a review in Nature
- Cordelia Fine, in her book Delusions of Gender
- Benjamin Radford
- Robin Marantz Henig in the New York Times
Academic feminists have given mixed reviews to The Female Brain. Brizendine was given the tongue-in-cheek 2006 Becky Award, which is given to "people or organizations who have made outstanding contributions to linguistic misinformation". The award cited errors in The Female Brain, including one sentence (removed from subsequent printings) which contrasted the number of words used by men and women in one day. The numbers had been taken from a book by a self-help guru and were incorrect.
Response to criticisms
Brizendine later made some concessions to those who felt that this book overemphasised gender-based differences, saying: "Males and females are more alike than there are differences. After all, we are the same species".
- 'A Brain of One's Own'. Washington Post August 20, 2006.
- Nature Evan Balaban and Rebecca M. Young called The Female Brain a "melodrama" "riddled with scientific errors" and "fail[ing] to meet even the most basic standards of scientific accuracy and balance" and that "human sex differences are elevated almost to the point of creating different species, yet virtually all differences in brain structure, and most differences in behaviour, are characterized by small average differences and a great deal of male–female overlap at the individual level".
"Psychoneuroindoctrinology". Young and Balaban. (Nature 443(7112), p. 634, October 2006
- Fine, Cordelia. Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference. W. W. Norton & Company, 2010.
- How different are male and female brains? (from Wayback Machine)
- How Women Think
- 2006 Becky Award
- "The Language of Eve", Geoffrey Nunberg, January 3, 2007
- Tugend, Alina. "Engendering Sons". California (magazine) (Winter 2014): 48–49.