From Publishers Weekly
Neuroanatomist LeVay's expert, drily written, often technical account of the biological basis of human sexual behavior and orientation is likely to be as controversial as his 1991 Science article describing a difference in the hypothalamic brain structure of homosexual and heterosexual men. Here LeVay argues that specialized regions within the hypothalamus generate male-typical and female-typical sexual behavior and feelings. While acknowledging the importance of environmental factors, he contends that identification of genes that influence sexual orientation, and of related biological mechanisms, will ultimately explain what makes a person gay, bisexual or straight. Hormone levels and brain circuitry, in LeVay's view, make males innately more aggressive than females. He also endorses Freud's theory that gay men often have distant fathers and unusually close mothers, yet he explains this by arguing that the young, pre-homosexual child's "gay" traits evoke negative reactions from fathers and positive ones from mothers.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A fascinating look at the biological bases for diversity of sexual feelings and behavior. Neurobiologist LeVay (Salk Institute for Biological Studies/UC at San Diego), whose only previous writing on sex was a 1991 paper in Science reporting differences in the hypothalamus of gay and straight men, says that his newness to the field of sex research has enabled him to bring a ``certain amateurish or journalistic attitude to the field.'' Unlike many scientists, LeVay has a skilled journalist's ability to make technical subject matter accessible, and he seems to have fun doing it. All the chapter titles are from Shakespeare: ``Time's Millioned Accidents'' covers the evolution of sex; ``For a Woman Thou First Created'' looks at the biology of sexual development; ``The Womby Vaultage'' examines the hypothalamus; and ``The Beast with Two Backs'' is about the mechanics of sexual intercourse. Other chapters look at the nature-versus-nurture question; how hormones influence courtship and maternal behavior; the organization of the brain; sexual identity; and sexual orientation. LeVay, who's gay, devotes his longest chapter to sexual orientation, examining the biological mechanisms that may help make a person gay, straight, or bisexual. Happily, he provides summaries at the beginning or end of most chapters, and he encourages readers to skip chapters that seem too technical and to read just the summary before going on. And there's a glossary designed not just for the scientifically challenged but for those who want help with Shakespeare's language as well: ``millioned'' is explained next to ``mitosis,'' and ``vasotocin'' next to ``vaultage.'' Erudite and entertaining. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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