Louann Brizendine: 'The Male Brain'

Once he reaches manhood, he will likely find himself pondering the age-old question, "What do women want?" While no one has a definitive answer to that question, men do know what women and society in general want and expect from them. Men must be strong, brave and independent. They grow up with the pressure to suppress their fear and pain, to hide their softer emotions, to stand confidently in the face of challenge. New research shows that their brain circuits will architecturally change to reflect this necessary suppression. Although they crave closeness and cuddling as much, or perhaps even more than women, if they show these desires, they are misjudged as soft or weak by other men and by women, too.

We humans are first and foremost social creatures with brains that quickly learn to perform in socially acceptable ways. By adulthood, most men and women have learned to behave in a gender-appropriate manner. But how much of this gendered behavior is innate and how much is learned? Are the miscommunications between men and women biologically based? This book aims to answer these questions. And the answers may surprise you. If men and women, parents and teachers, start out with a deeper understanding of the male brain, how it forms, how it is shaped in boyhood and the way it comes to see reality during and after the teen years, we can create more realistic expectations for boys and men. Gaining a deeper understanding of biological gender differences can also help to dispel the simplified and negative stereotypes of masculinity that both women and men have come to accept.

This book provides a behind-the-scenes brain's-eye view of little boys, tumultuous teens, men on the mating hunt, fathers and grandfathers. As I take readers through the phases of the male brain's life, my hope is that men will gain a greater understanding of their deepest drives and women will catch a glimpse of the world through male-colored glasses. We are entering an era, finally, when both men and women can begin to understand their distinct biology and how it affects their lives. If we know how a biological brain state is guiding our impulses, we can choose how to act, or not act at all, rather than merely following our compulsions. If you're a man, this knowledge not only can help you understand and harness your unique male brain power, but it can also help you to understand your sons, your father and the other men in your life. If you're a woman, this book will help you to interpret and comprehend the intricacies of the male brain. With that new information, you can help your sons and husbands to be truer to their nature and perhaps you can feel more compassionate toward your father.

Over the years, as I have been writing this book and coming to a deeper understanding of the male brain, I have come to see the men I love most -- my son, my husband and my father-- in a new light. It is my hope that this book will help the male brain to be seen and understood as the fine-tuned and complex instrument that it actually is.

Excerpted from "The Male Brain," by Louann Brizendine, M.D. Copyright 2010 by Broadway Books. Reprinted by Permission of Broadway Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

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