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The Male Brain : A Breakthrough Understanding of How Men and Boys Think - Louann Brizendine

The Male Brain

A Breakthrough Understanding of How Men and Boys Think

Paperback Published: 25th January 2011
ISBN: 9780767927543
Number Of Pages: 271

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From the author of the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller The Female Brain, here is the eagerly awaited follow-up book that demystifies the puzzling male brain.

Dr. Louann Brizendine, the founder of the first clinic in the country to study gender differences in brain, behavior, and hormones, turns her attention to the male brain, showing how, through every phase of life, the "male reality" is fundamentally different from the female one. Exploring the latest breakthroughs in male psychology and neurology with her trademark accessibility and candor, she reveals that the male brain:

  • is a lean, mean, problem-solving machine. Faced with a personal problem, a man will use his analytical brain structures, not his emotional ones, to find a solution.
  • thrives under competition, instinctively plays rough and is obsessed with rank and hierarchy.
  • has an area for sexual pursuit that is 2.5 times larger than the female brain, consuming him with sexual fantasies about female body parts.
  • experiences such a massive increase in testosterone at puberty that he perceive others' faces to be more aggressive.
The Male Brain finally overturns the stereotypes. Impeccably researched and at the cutting edge of scientific knowledge, this is a book that every man, and especially every woman bedeviled by a man, will need to own.

Praise for The Female Brain:

"Louann Brizendine has done a great favor for every man who wants to understand the puzzling women in his life. A breezy and enlightening guide to women and a must-read for men."

—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

About the Author

Louann Brizendine, MD, is Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. Educated at Yale Medical School and previously on the faculty at Harvard Medical School, she is founder and director of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at UCSF. She has appeared on major media including Oprah and lives in the Bay area with her husband and son.

Industry Reviews

"In this utterly fascinating follow-up to her bestselling The Female Brain, Harvard neuropsychiatrist Brizendine leads readers through the lifespan of a man's brain, using lively prose and personable anecdotes to turn complex scientific research into a highly accessible romp. Among other salient info, readers will learn why it is what young boys seem unable to stay still (they are learning through "embodied cognition"); why behaviors may change so suddenly during puberty (among other changes, testosterone increases 20-fold); the nature of irritability in teens ("boys' hormones prime them for aggressive and territorial behaviors"); and the ways in which chemicals, physical touch, and play bond fathers with their children. With clearly detailed scientific explanations for how characteristics like anger expression, analysis of facial expression, and spatial manipulation differ between the sexes, Brizendine's review of brain and behavioral research should net a broad audience, from parents of boys to psychology students to fans of her first volume. Brizendine also includes an appendix regarding the brain and sexual orientation, as well as lengthy endnotes and an exhaustive reference list."--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review "As a woman who has known complicated men her whole life, I can't help but wish The Male Brain had been around when I was a girl. Dr. Louann Brizendine's lucid, lively, and always fascinating discussion of how the male brain works (and why) has enlightened me in more ways than I can count. Now I can't wait to give the book to all my women friends."--Jane Fonda, actress and author of My Life So Far"Dr. Brizendine has marshaled a host of impressive data and insights and presented them in an elegant and entertaining way to clearly illustrate men's reality--as infants, boys, teens, lovers, husbands, fathers and workers. It's a deep dive into the worlds of men, as well as a fascinating read. And along the way, you will pick up some valuable tips to help you understand, appreciate and connect with the men in your life."--Helen Fisher, Ph.D., author of Why Him? Why Her? "It takes an extraordinary woman like Dr. Louann Brizendine to understand the male brain. She brings the latest in state-of-the-art science in helping us to understand the most ancient and primal of male passions and desires--and viva le difference! Highly recommended."-Dean Ornish, author of The Spectrum "The remarkable brain science behind Mars and Venus in a really enjoyable read! I think that this book, along with The Female Brain should be read by every parent, child, husband, wife, employer, employee, and dating age adult - they bring love and understanding into our most important, and sometimes most frustrating relationships." -Martin L. Rossman, M.D., Clinical Faculty, UCSF; Founder, TheHealingMind.org, Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco "Louann Brizendine has done a great favor for every man who wants to understand the puzzling women in his life. A breezy and enlightening guide to women and a must-read for men." --Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

Excerpt from Chapter Two:
The Teen Boy Brain

“TURN OFF your computer now, Jake! No gaming until that homework is done!” shrieked Jake’s mother as she pounded on his bedroom door. Opening the door a crack, Jake gave her a blank stare and grumbled something under his breath before shutting the door in her face. Kate knew he’d probably turn the computer back on without the volume. But what she didn’t know was that free porn sites were beginning to be more enticing to him than the war games he played online with his buddies.

Kate was a patient of mine, and up until this past year, she’d described her relationship with Jake as close and rewarding. But when her formerly happy and cooperative son turned fourteen, he became sullen and irritable. Struggle, struggle, struggle is all they seemed to do these days. When Kate and her husband, Dan, found out that Jake hadn’t turned in a single English assignment in weeks, they worried that he might be drinking or experimenting with drugs. That’s when they scheduled a family appointment with me. During our session, Jake stared out the window and Dan listened politely as Kate wrenchingly complained that their son had suddenly become unreachable and secretive. Not only had Jake gotten into a fight with another freshman, named Dylan, but he also had a new group of friends, including a girl named Zoe whom Kate described as “fast.” Dan spoke up in disagreement, saying, “I’m not too worried about the fight or Jake’s new friends. But I do expect Jake to keep his grades up.”

Meanwhile, Jake, with his curly brown hair and long, lanky limbs, see med dazed and oblivious to his parents’ worries about him. When I turned and asked him, “What do you think of your parents’ concerns?” he merely shrugged. It was clear that Jake, like most teens, wasn’t going to say much of anything in front of his parents, so I suggested that he come in for a private session the following week. Since my own teen son had recently left for college after four long years of high school, I had a pretty good idea what Jake and his parents were going through. No matter how harmonious a boy’s childhood has been, puberty can change everything. This stage of child development requires that delicate parental maneuver of becoming disengaged without disengaging. Kate said she felt as if the Jake she knew had disappeared, and in some ways he had.

Scientists have discovered that the teen brain in both sexes is distinctly different from the preadolescent brain. The changes that were becoming obvious in Jake were set in motion by his genes and hormones while he was still in utero. Now, with the end of the juvenile pause, it was time for Jake to ramp up his skills for surviving in a man’s world. And he was ready and eager, even if his mother wasn’t. At this stage, the millions of little androgen switches, or receptors, in his brain are hungrily awaiting the arrival of testosterone— king of the male hormones. As the floodgates are flung wide open, the juice of manhood saturates his body and his brain. When my own son turned fourteen and became moody and irritable, I remember thinking, “Oh my God, soon the testosterone will take him over mind, body, and soul.”


Although Kate worried that Jake’s behavior was extreme, I assured her that he was no different from many other boys his age. At fourteen, Jake’s brain would have already been under reconstruction for a few years. Between the ages of nine and fifteen, his male brain circuitry, with its billions of neurons and trillions of connections, was “going live” as his testosterone level soared twenty fold. If testosterone were beer, a nine-year-old boy would get the equivalent of about one cup a day. But by age fifteen, it would be equal to two gallons a day. Jake wasn’t into drugs or alcohol. He was loaded on testosterone.

From then on, testosterone would biologically masculinize all the thoughts and behaviors that emerge from his brain. It would stimulate the rapid growth of male brain circuits that were formed before he was born. It also would enlarge his testicles, activate the growth of his muscles and bones, make his beard and pubic hair grow, deepen his voice, and lengthen and thicken his penis. But just as dramatically, it would make his brain’s sexual- pursuit circuits, in his hypothalamus, grow more than twice as large as those in girls’ brains. The male brain is now structured to push sexual pursuit to the forefront of his mind.

Early in puberty, when images of breasts and other female body parts naturally take over their brain’s visual cortex, some boys wonder if they’re turning into “pervs.” It takes a little while for them to get used to their new preoccupation with girls, which runs on autopilot. This sexual preoccupation is like a large-screen TV in a sports bar— always on in the background. When I share this information with teen boys in high-school classrooms, I can see recognition flash across many of their faces, if only for an instant, before they go back to looking bored.

But sex is not the only thing on a teen boy’s mind. As the testosterone surged through Jake’s brain cells, it was stimulating a companion hormone called vasopressin. Together, testosterone and vasopressin were making Jake’s brain territorial about his room and sensitive to his peer’s putdowns— perceived or real.
And when these hormones got mixed with the stress hormone cortisol, they supercharged his body and brain, preparing him for the male fight-or-flight response in reaction to challenges to his status or turf. Our brains have bee n shaped for hundreds of thousands of years by living in status-conscious hierarchical groups. And while not all tee n boys want to be king of the hill, they do want to be close to the top of the pecking order, staying as far from the bottom as possible. And that can mean taking risks that get them into trouble.

Like most of us moms, Kate couldn’t fully appreciate or relate to all the changes in her teen son’s brain. When Dan and Kate came into my office the next week, I said to Kate, “Don’t worry. It takes about eight to nine years for the teen brain to complete the remodeling it began when he entered puberty. Jake’s hormonally enhanced brain circuits will stabilize when he’s in his late teens or early twenties.”

Kate’s face fell. “I’m not sure I’ll live that long. This boy’s killing me.” I could see that she was only half joking. Dan turned to me and said, “Look, Jake’s just like every other teenage boy that ever walked the planet Earth. He’s gonna look at some porn. He’s gonna blow off his homework, get in some fights, and drool over girls. Once he’s grounded for a while, he’ll come around.”
Phases of a Male's Life

Introduction What Makes a Man 1

1 The Boy Brain 9

2 The Teen Boy Brain 30

3 The Mating Brain: Love and Lust 51

4 The Brain Below the Belt 67

5 The Daddy Brain 79

6 Manhood: The Emotional Lives of Men 95

7 The Mature Male Brain 112

Epilogue The Future of the Male Brain 131

Appendix The Male Brain and Sexual Orientation 133

Notes 137

References 179

Index 263

ISBN: 9780767927543
ISBN-10: 0767927540
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 271
Published: 25th January 2011
Publisher: R WYLER & CO
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 19.68 x 12.7  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.23

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