First, the good news.
The content of this book is excellent. This is a very scientific/biological explanation of the many changes that occur in a female's brain over the course of her lifetime.
As a guy, I found this book very informative, and it has made me much more aware of how differently males' and females' minds differ, and it makes those frustrating failures in communication seem so much more logical.
Now, the not-so-good news.
I tend to like when an author of any non-fiction narrates their own work, however this was very painful for me to listen to.
Simply put, I felt like I was sitting in kindergarten, being read a children's story. The author reads at a painfully slow pace, using tones that are very much akin to what new mothers use to talk to their babies. (Well, hewwo there my widdle schmoopie whoopie.)
After getting so perturbed by this that I couldn't bare to listen to it any longer, I decided to increase the playback speed on my iPod to an accelerated rate. This had the double benefits of almost making the reader speak as fast as a normal human being, and also effectively removing the annoying baby-talk.
In all, I still give this book a 4/5 rating because of the quality of the material. I would strongly suggest that the author consider changing her delivery in any future readings.
This book strikes a balance between academic rigor and the need for a readable, understandable book for the general public on this topic. For too long, men, women, teenagers and adolescents – as well as the many healthcare professionals, social workers, counselors, school teachers, etc. – have needed a practical guide that bridges that gap between advances in our knowledge of the sexual differences in the brain and their impact upon our daily lives. This book admirably does this WITHOUT getting bogged down in the details of PET scans, the minutiae of neuroanatomy, extended discussions of biochemical hormonal pathways, and other arcane topics that would render this book unreadable for its target audience.
This book and its author have come under fire for her use of clinical anecdotes, personal experiences, and generalizations of that summarize complex research in a way that does not pass muster for academic medical writing. These would be valid criticisms if Dr. Brizendine was writing a medical textbook, but she isn’t. The result is a very readable (listenable) book that presents the author’s point of view developed over a long clinical career.
This book will change your brain, whether it is male or female. The author, Louann Brizendine, reads herself, and her wry sense of humor comes through—especially when talking about sex, one of her favorite subjects.
She reminds us the testosterone is an aggression and sexual arousal hormone in both sexes. Which is fine, except males have more of it—much more of it. Some of my women friends have remarked that males are more prone to violence, but, being a relatively passive male, I didn’t believe them. She has made a believer of me—and given me insight into my adolescent sex-driven behavior, something I certainly didn’t understand at the time—to say nothing of my parents.
Her description of the emotional problems of adolescent girls made me glad I wasn’t one of them. Here again, the problems of being a woman would overwhelm any man. For example, I have never understood how a woman can manage a career and a family at the same time. As she says, it ain’t easy, and everybody suffers because of it.
The author makes it clear that hormones are what run our life, organize our brains, and make us men and women. (There are some differences here that might surprise you.) There is a lot of talk now about gene therapy, but hormone therapy is much easier—especially for women whose hormones tend to get out of line and drive them (and everyone else) crazy.
There is no question that this is the most well researched, experience-based, easy to understand and compassionate book on the differences between the male and female brains (and thus our behaviors) that I have come across.
However, the author's voice, while perfectly suited for children's book reading or bed time reading, was not appropriate for this material. It feels as though the author is speaking down to the listeners as if we are little children. The tonation also makes it hard to stay alert and to focus on the subject as it tends to have a lullaby effect. I do a lot of audiobooks in the car due to a very long commute to work and had to stop listening to it after a while because it was making me feel sleepy.
As a book to read with your own eyes, however, I highly recommend this book to both men and women who care to understand why we are so different.
"Men are from Mars..." explains "where" we are different. This book explains "why" by looking at the differences in the ways the male and female brains develop.
First, no, this author should not have narrated her own book. It's not exactly her voice, it's the sing-songy way she uses tone to overemphasize every sentence, like she's trying out for the high school play.
More importantly though, the suggestion that the book strikes a good balance between science and self-help is silly. This is definitely a self-help book with a little science thrown in, not a science book with a practical side; if you come to it with the latter expectation, you will be very disappointed.
The author deserves a little credit for taking on various "gender is all culturally constructed" myths--this might have been groundbreaking in the '70s. But in general, she seems satisfied with feel-good generalizations about the differences between the sexes, backed up with an ounce of actual research (not her own), and her clinical experience, which she assures us is extensive, though she seems to select the most stereotypical, vanilla case studies imaginable to present. There's also remarkably little about non-typical experiences, from lesbians to tomboys.
I'm a 60 yo man that grew up with 3 brothers and an overworked mother. Not growing up with any sisters I had no frame of reference regarding female needs or behavioral. All of my information came from other guys and was just wrong.
I have had 3 failed relationships and just thought all women are crazy. By listening to this book I have a gained a new perspective on the female psyche. I have new respect for what women go through in life. I'm very glad that I took the time to go through this book.
This is a great read for anyone who wants to gain a fairly extensive and not "cute" explanation of the femaile brain. As a nearly 60 year-old male, I wish I had been able to access such a book at about 25. Anytime before that, I just would not have believed it or had the patience to listen. The bad part is that I came to the conclusion that I had no hope of ever obtaining a sufficient understanding of the female brain so that I might apply that knowledge to escape the persistent difficulty of living with a woman. There is little hope only the recognition that neither you or the woman are crazy. I also listened to the male brain. That was much easier because we men are rather simple. Of course, that is sad as well.
Every woman should read this. Not only helps you understand what is going on in your head, but explains critical differences between male and female thinking/reactions/communications. Latest research in an entertaining form that is easy for the layman to understand. The pleasing voice is also nice. Can't wait to hear the new one (The Male Brain).
1) Someone besides the author should have read it.
2) The topic of how genes, neurons, and experiences all contribute to gender differences is an important and valuable topic in science, and one on which there is a lot of research on how these factors work together to create very real differences between men and women. This book does a true disservice to all of that scientific research. The author repeatedly used terms that are inappropriate for human brains: "hard-wired", "determined by genes," "driven by hormones." As a neuroscientist myself, I know that in the human brain, unlike in some animal brains, no neural connections are completely hard-wired.
The way development works in human (and many primate and mammalian) brains allows for an elegant interaction of neuron growth regulated by genes, neural wiring regulated by experience, and genetic activity in neurons regulated by both genes and experience. It's a disservice to readers to portray brain development so inaccurately, as if it were less flexible than it really is.
3) The scientist/author should have done what scientists are supposed to do: consider alternative hypotheses to her own, and how well various alternatives explain the data. did not even try to imagine how gender differences apparent in children aged 3 or 4 might be explained by experiences, but simply stated that if such differences were present at such a young age, they must be "genetically determined" or "controlled by hormones" or "hard-wired."
There is ample research on how people treat even new-born babies differently depending, not on the baby's actual gender, but on what they think the baby's gender is. Boys are handled more roughly, girls more gently; people talk to boys and girls differently; as babies grow into toddlers who interact with others, girls are given disapproval if they are rough or assertive, whereas boys receive approval and praise for such behavior.
None of this research is acknowledged, nor are the author's hypotheses ever truly considered in the scientific light of evidence that is inconsistent with the author's point of view. (We at least deserve to get her explanation of how to deal with such evidence.) Instead, an oversimplified narrative about gender is driven home, and many unsupported claims are made throughout the book, but written as though they constitute "scientific facts." This book gives science writing a bad name.
Dull, flat voice.
This book was a complete disappointment.
She talked to us in her Mommy voice. Ugh.
This book only describes women that are heterosexual and middle to upper-middle class conforming to a patriarchal society.
Apparently Ms. Brizendine doesn't understand that Lesbians exist or that one in five American women either choose to not have children or cannot therefore making them age WITHOUT the "Mommy Brain" as the author so annoyingly calls it. What about them? What about women who can't afford to retire and live at a poorer socio-economic status and have legitimately greater stress than women who can't handle their husbands moping around the house after they retire?
At the end of the book she briefly talks about women in Africa but all her examples are still about aging mothers.
This book started off so good but it only covered one type of person in the female population. It's a shame. There's a lot of great information in here, but only about one type of woman. Her narration made me feel like she was talking to a class of kindergarteners. Or like I was having a somewhat educated conversation at a Baby Shower.