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The Female Brain Paperback – August 7, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This comprehensive new look at the hormonal roller coaster that rules women's lives down to the cellular level, "a user's guide to new research about the female brain and the neurobehavioral systems that make us women," offers a trove of information, as well as some stunning insights. Though referenced like a work of research, Brizedine's writing style is fully accessible. Brizendine provides a fascinating look at the life cycle of the female brain from birth ("baby girls will connect emotionally in ways that baby boys don't") to birthing ("Motherhood changes you because it literally alters a woman's brain-structurally, functionally, and in many ways, irreversibly") to menopause (when "the female brain is nowhere near ready to retire") and beyond. At the same time, Brizedine is not above reviewing the basics: "We may think we're a lot more sophisticated than Fred or Wilma Flintstone, but our basic mental outlook and equipment are the same." While this book will be of interest to anyone who wonders why men and women are so different, it will be particularly useful for women and parents of girls.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Louann Brizendine, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, explores groundbreaking issues in brain science with mixed results. Critics debate the author's presentation and research; some extol her many and varied sources and the book's accessibility, while others take her to task for relying too heavily on anecdotal evidence and "dumbing down" the text (Robin Marantz Henig cites the author's repeated use of "cutesy language" and slang). Despite the critical ambivalence, the author certainly has the credentials to write this book. Brizendine graduated from the Yale University School of Medicine and draws on research done at the Women's and Teen Girls' Mood and Hormone Clinic, which she founded at UCSF in 1994. So the question is, do you require step-by-step proof for conclusions some consider controversial, or are you willing to take her word for it?

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 279 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1 Reprint edition (August 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767920104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767920100
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (349 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,782 of 1,933 people found the following review helpful By David H. Peterzell PhD PhD on September 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I really, really wanted to like this book. I've studied cognitive, perceptual and developmental neuroscience for 25+ years, and I'm also a clinical psychologist. I've been interested in gender differences for just as long. I teach undergrad and grad courses on neuroscience, cognition, emotion, behavior, learning, and sensation and perception. I make a point of covering what is known about sex differences. I think the issues are really important and I've found that it is very important to get facts right because this controversial issue is a lightning rod for anger, frustration, tension and malevolent personal biases. My strong belief, shared by many, is that competent clinical psychologists and other clinicians must work hard to understand and manage their gender biases in order to manage "counter-transference" and help their clients. I know what good science is, including good neuroscience, good cognitive science, and good clinical psychology. There are plenty of women who conduct high-quality research on mind and brain, and make huge contributions. I've witnessed this personally, repeatedly. Over the years, I've worked for and with a large number of women, and I've trained a fair number too. Among first rate scientists and scientific thinkers there are plenty of women. I imagine that they will be just as disappointed in this book as I am.

Some observations:

1) The author begins the book by emphasizing her credentials and her influences in the acknowledgements section. The academic pedigree is impressive: UC Berkeley, UCSF, Harvard Med School, Yale Med School, University College, London. She thanks a long list of great scientists, teachers and students who have influenced her thinking. It is an impressive collection of names and places.
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520 of 612 people found the following review helpful By linda on September 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have created an award, named for the 1986 Newsweek story that told a generation of smart women that they were more likely to be killed by a terrorist than marry after thirty, which Newsweek retracted this year after all the damage had been done."The Female Brain" by Louann Brizendine is the first winner of the award.

Here's why:

In The Female Brain, Brizendine, a San Francisco Bay area psychiatrist, who runs a clinic she started to help women who think their mental problems are caused by their hormones, describes the life cycle of a contemporary American educated, neurotic, urban, privileged professional in a culture in which science is just another option, as if she had discovered Lucy, the mother of all mankind. Behavior familiar to many of us only from the wonderful bad Heather literature is presented as hard-"wired" into the female brain. Brizendine's description of the hard-"wired" cervix and brain-softening, uncontrollable urge to mate with one's newborn baby, which makes wholesale desertion of the work place is as irresistible as the law of gravity, is the closest thing to soft porn I've seen emerging from the San Francisco Medical Center in a long time. For the many women who would find Brizendine's transparently autobiographical description of the stages of a woman's life almost entirely unfamiliar, the possibility that the book is false seems immediately obvious. If it were true, The Female Brain would be a scary book indeed. But of course it's not.

Insecure readers might coubt their own sanity when reading the thing, because the short book is supplemented by mind-numbing pages of citations to scientific journals. But happily as far as I know the articles Brizendine cites bear essentially no relationship to the propositions in the text of the book.
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118 of 140 people found the following review helpful By C. Fountain on September 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
... please read Dr. Mark Liberman's critique of its scholarship, which recently appeared in the Boston Globe. I also work in academia, and am galled by Dr. Brizendine's sloppy research and dismayed that the publisher did not do more fact-checking before agreeing to publish her book.

"The Female Brain" does have a nice, breezy style common in many pop-science works; Dr. Brizendine writes well. This makes it all the more unfortunate, however, that she bases many of her arguments on "facts" and statistics that are not backed up by scientific literature.

Sadly, this is yet another in a long line of books that trumpet the neurological basis of gender differences with little attention to the complexity of the issues. Yes, innate gender differences almost certainly exist, but the truth is that we don't yet know enough about how the brain works to really tease out such differences. I am always disappointed when authors, especially scientists, gloss over these difficulties in an attempt to draw more attention to their work. I realize that it's more exciting to claim "I know how the female brain works! Women think this way!" rather than to admit that one has some preliminary findings and hypotheses about male vs. female tendencies, and that individual differences are often greater than male vs. female differences. But it's also disheartening to think that many people will believe Dr. Brizendine's claims without realizing that they are principally overgeneralizations, peppered with outright inaccuracies.
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