Customer Reviews


37 Reviews
5 star:
 (22)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (5)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move over, Natalie!
A few years ago, New York Times science writer Natalie Angier produced "Woman: An Intimate Geography". The book was intended to explain many facets of a woman's body, and was a good comprehensive account, sorely needed. However, except for some discussion of hormonal influences, the book tended to skim over the brain's role. Louann Brizendine takes up that slack with...
Published on 29 Dec. 2006 by Stephen A. Haines

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Personal opinions and twisted scientific studies - the bibliography is worth more than the book
The book is well written, not-so well edited, she includes a very substantial bibliography (which takes up about 1/3 of the book) and it's perfectly accessible to the lay person, as most of the science has been removed. If you want the actual facts I recommend looking straight at the bibliography and then reading the papers she cites - make your minds up from there. Most...
Published 21 months ago by boots-2000


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Personal opinions and twisted scientific studies - the bibliography is worth more than the book, 30 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Female Brain (Paperback)
The book is well written, not-so well edited, she includes a very substantial bibliography (which takes up about 1/3 of the book) and it's perfectly accessible to the lay person, as most of the science has been removed. If you want the actual facts I recommend looking straight at the bibliography and then reading the papers she cites - make your minds up from there. Most studies are pretty inconclusive at best.

Now then, from the beginning of this book:

The first few pages take you through the layout of the female brain, the diagram is clear, well labelled and well explained. The hormones that effect us are also explained in a very understandable way. This does make a substantial difference when reading the book.

For the most part the book is exactly what it is advertised to be. It explains the stages of a woman's life, why she acts how she does, what's going on in her head, which parts of the brain deal with what and how to understand yourself. I agree with the comment on the front of this book: it IS reassuring, but only if you are a heterosexual, middle class girl who has only every been interested in dollies and is some kind of empath. For those of us who were tomboys, lesbians, more interested in our careers than giving birth ... well, it's less than reassuring. And remember, the female brain is superior because we're all apparently mind readers. (I must have been in the loo when mind-reading abilities were handed out.) The idea that women are better at reading subtle signals is far more likely to be because we're trained to do this from a young age, always on the watch for someone who might hurt us in some way, or simply because girls are expected to be more in-tune with people's emotions.

The author uses studies that often only loosely prove her point, that are refuted in many ways, tests that can be proven wrong. The author displays a clear conformation bias in some of her study choices. The "facts" are, to use a popular phrase "cherry-picked" to the extreme. One that sticks out in my mind is her argument about girls preferring faces and boys preferring items. When we have copious studies that show girls look at faces with indifference, and spend longer looking at geometric shapes; while boys are far more likely to react to a change in expression while they're children.

Another example that sticks out in my mind is the women and scientific careers. She claims girls rarely go into science because they want more social careers - the fact this "study" was actually her asking her friends is immediately worrying; the fact she doesn't acknowledge the societal bias of preferring boys for STEM careers doesn't seem to enter her head at all. She cannot deny that when girls hear that their gender is bad at X,Y and Z for years on end that it's pretty natural for them to not want to enter those fields. In fact, there are studies that show if you tell someone that if they do X they will fall, then eventually they will indeed fall when they do X.

She writes that clitoral and vaginal orgasms are the same. Only we know anatomically they're not. They light up different areas in the brain, they feel different, and different nerves are used. Some women cannot achieve vaginal orgasms, but can achieve clitoral ones. This isn't some wacky idea, this is something we can see by cutting up cadavers and putting live people in MRI machines. In fact, I vividly recall reading a study in which 40 female cadavers were cut up to look at the structure, shape, and size of the clitoris - the results showed that the clitoris is far bigger and more important to sexual pleasure than we first knew.

Another is the girl who cuddles her "truckie", the author claims this is biology at work, and has nothing to do with how she has been socialised. I would personally beg to differ. The author doesn't seem to even contemplate the notion of socialisation.

The entire book sounds like she's trying make excuses so boys can be badly behaved, and how we should protect our "sweet, innocent little girls". However, this comes across in a really strange way. She sounds like she thinks men are simply bad/aggressive people and that them being violent is natural. I find this very worrying, and actually quite insulting to the males of our species. I personally hold them in much higher esteem and find them capable of controlling their feelings (and yes, contrary to the approach in this book, I believe them to have feelings just as acute and intricate and those women feel).

The other thing I didn't like is how heterosexual this book is. It may sound like a silly qualm; but gay and bisexual women are still very much women. When the author makes statements such as why women look for a certain type of man, without pointing out that this isn't true for all women she excludes lesbian and bisexual women. Sexuality is only included in an appendix (2 pages) at the back of the book; and while it's interesting, I feel it felt too much like an "add on" for my taste. As the author herself states, between 5 and 10% of women identify as lesbians or bisexual women - that's a fair percentage of people she's excluding. I would also have really liked to read a few pages about the brains of transgender women - as this author seems to believe that the "female brain" is only the way it is due to oestrogen levels.

Also, the studies she used to back up her points about homosexuality in women are from very small samples (less than 100 people), tests that didn't have great controls and ones that often have 10 other studies proving the opposite, or no difference. The appendix suggests that gay women are far more like men, and actually sit in between men and women's results, this pretty much stops any reassurances in her book, as she implies that gay women are neither female brained, nor male brained... I have yet to see her book for the "homosexual brain" (I admit I do not think homosexual or bisexual people's brains are any different in structure to heterosexual brains). Women are very diverse in looks, loves, abilities, and interests, the only thing that connects us all is our identity as women. As I've already said, this book is aimed at white, middle-class, heterosexual, cisgendered American women who have been raised with rigid gender stereotypes, and have not questioned them.

This aside, however, it's a vaguely interesting book, and it would do well to be paired with "Delusions of Gender" by Cordelia Fine as these books together offer a balanced argument. I also recommend "Sexing the Body" by Anne Fausto-Sterling, as this is a very interesting book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move over, Natalie!, 29 Dec. 2006
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Female Brain (Hardcover)
A few years ago, New York Times science writer Natalie Angier produced "Woman: An Intimate Geography". The book was intended to explain many facets of a woman's body, and was a good comprehensive account, sorely needed. However, except for some discussion of hormonal influences, the book tended to skim over the brain's role. Louann Brizendine takes up that slack with enthusiasm and deep experience. As founder of a clinic dealing with women's health and behaviour issues, she's adept at explaining complex issues clearly. She relates her own studies and that of many researchers [seventy pages of "References" impart that!], nearly all of it of recent vintage. As such, this is the most up-to-date and comprehensive study of how the female brain develops that is available today.

The author reminds us that all human brains start out female. Until the Y chromosome's genes begin transforming the embryo by a cascade of hormonal signals, all the brain cells are XX, the default. Then males and females are sent down the separate tracks of sex development. As much distinction as we see between males and females, the hidden differences in the brain are easily as significant, if not more so. Brizendine explains the triggers launching the conditions found in the female brain, showing how different ratios of neurotransmitters between males and females assist in guiding them along their separate paths.

From the growing embryo, the author moves on to the child's years and through adolescence, adulthood and the grandmother years. At the outset, it's clear that a woman's biological signals are strong and persistent, even if sometimes inconsistent. There are strong evolutionary roots to why women's "moods" are as they are and some of these are manifest in other animals, a point Angier dismissed scornfully. A woman's level of empathy with others is far higher than a man's. She develops a sense of reconciliation to prevent or avoid danger to herself and her offspring. Preparation for this outlook begins early. Females bond with other females at a young age, reflecting their tendency for negotiation and conciliation. Little girls group in the sandbox or schoolyard, while boys are more willing to act alone. In groups, boys will contest for leadership spots, while girls tend to act concertedly. A "leadership" role, if taken up in a girl's clique, may rotate among its members. This may result from "talking out" an issue among the girls. With females uttering nearly three times the number of words per day than men do, talking out a situation comes more naturally even to the young.

Once the devastating chemical storms of adolescence quiet down, entering adulthood doesn't mean hormonal fluctuations level off. Instead, the estrus cycle brings a wave of chemical flows that "marinate the brain" with new varieties. During adolescence, a spurt of new cells is generated in the brain. Specific centres, such as that for speech, enlarge and have greater influence on behaviour. Love enters the picture and issues of sex and commitment become prominent. It is in these sections of the book that Brizendine's clinical experience is best brought forth. Running a clinic in San Francisco on "Women's and Teen Girls' Mood and Hormone Clinic" brings her in frequent contact with the results of the female brain's chemical machinations. As she depicts the circumstances of a client's condition, Brizendine is able to take the reader along on imaginary trips into the female brain to explain which chemicals are performing which tasks. Levels of dopamine, estrogen, testosterone and cortisol are being adjusted by the hypothalamus and amygdala in reaction to various prompts. It's a busy place in there, with little "down time" for the working chemists.

One form of apparent reduced capacity is due to the onset of depression. Studies of depression in women go back many years, but only recently have the neurochemical aspects been discovered. Although there are many causes for depression, menopause is a consistently fundamental one. Brizendine, after a lengthy examination of the issue, concludes that estrogen therapy, initiated as soon as menopause - which "technically lasts for only twenty-four hours" - is applied promptly. Delay renders the therapy useless, perhaps even dangerous. Beyond the general text, the author provides an Epilogue and three Appendixes to address further the issues of hormone therapy, depression and sexual orientation. The package Brizendine has put together is expressive and informative. There are many areas where she concedes "we don't know why" which will surely be attended to by the research this book will spur. While this book may someday be outdated, it's an excellent summation of what we know now - and which a good many should learn about. Read this book to find out why. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars if anything, an enjoyable read., 22 May 2010
By 
W. Doyle (ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Female Brain (Paperback)
i simply have been trying to read books that are non fiction. im not sure why i bought this book now but since beginning i try to open it whenever i have half an hour to sit down. it is easily understood and very interesting. moments from your life will spring to mind and you think "ah, thats why", it certainly explains my teenage years, and up until now i thought i was a crazy, depressed and abnormal teen. this book has cancelled out any negative thoughts i have of this time in my life now. i will definitely buy the male brain by the same author.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


55 of 64 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hearts and Diamonds, or Spades and Clubs, 22 Jan. 2009
By 
L. Power "nlp trainer" (San Francisco) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Female Brain (Paperback)
In this world there are facts, and there are opinions.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts." Patrick Moynihan.

This book is not about the female brain, but about hormones, and the fluctuations experienced throughout life, through birth, teen years, sex, love, mommy and menopause. I felt compassion and new understanding of what women have to go through. A woman or a man reading this book might gain value and insight from that information. That aspect is quite good.

With the 90 pages of references that this book contains to scientific reports, one might expect that this book would reflect an unbiased scientific proof of those reports. However, the author cherry picks her facts, and colors them pink with her own personal biases and prejudices:

The female brain is superior to men because women are better at communicating and connecting, and men may experience brain envy. Is she a mind reader? In fact, if women are four times as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety as men, as she says, why would anyone make that trade?

There is only one brain diagram listing seven items in darker shade leaving most of the brain depicted blank, and its function unexplained. What goes on in this area? Another brain book I am reading has 11 good diagrams with plenty of detail.

She explains why women do not tend to excel at science and math; hormone difference in teen years, plus she spoke to some women friends, one in particular, who was a scientist. She wanted a more social career. This is an example of her sweeping generalizing, and superficial exploration of a provocative topic. One woman equals all women. No mention of famous female scientists. Examples would be Marie Curie, and Florence Nightingale, who invented the pie chart..

Men are continuously portrayed as socially and emotionally retarded, and overly aggressive. She uses the playground analogy, of the young girl, and her cousin Johnny who would take her toys. Johnny is represented as not only typical of all five year olds, but all men. Girl good, boy bad. Boy bad, all men bad.

She thought something was wrong with her own baby son because he was less interested in faces than a girl his age. Doesn't she know that boys are more interested in objects, and ideas while girls are more interested in people?

Then a three year old girl is brought to her, because she said she was a boy, and her behavior was aggressive, and yet she had girlish interests. She diagnosed her with CAH a hormone disorder, and used hormones to put it right. Hmmm.

She states that in ancient times women banded together to protect themselves from dangerous cavemen. Was she there? Can she time travel? In fact the more likely explanation proposed by evolutionary biologists is men risked being kicked out of their small community if they were rejected by a female, and never have a chance for replication, and that explains why men feel anxious approaching women. What about women banding together to connect and socialise as she mentioned earlier.

Most annoying is her bandying about the words perception and reality as if they have the same meaning. Here are examples: hormones change reality, teen reality, female reality, hormones created a reality, her reality was stable, a version of reality, reality in fact can be a daily uncertainty. Hormones change teen reality, and perception of themselves. She does mean perceptions of reality or events, right?

Reality can be defined as -things as they are, not appearances.
"All reality is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Einstein.
"There is no reality only perception." Dr Phil Mc Graw.
"Reality is that which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K Dick.

She states there is no difference between clitoral and vaginal orgasms, because the nerves are all connected internally. Sounds like going to Anaheim, and giving Disneyland a miss. What about all the contradictory reports, like the Shere Hite report.

She asks does chemistry change perceptions? Rather tellingly, she does not ask , if perceptions change chemistry, or offer any meaningful suggestions of how they can. That is the single biggest failing of this book.

One could easily gain the impression that female consciousness and attention does not matter, or does not exist. There is no chapter on consciousness in the book. Nor is there a chapter on reasoning, or focus, or behavioral flexibility, or Triune Brain theory.

My concern with this book is the hormones and pills change everything approach. A pill is not a skill. Skill is learning to observe emotions and perceptions as they arise, release them, change them, and so evolve.

As Aristotle said: `Man is a rational animal.' When we grow up we learn to channel our aggression in useful ways. We build houses, roads, bridges, cars, systems.

Let's say our ancestors killed buffalo. Caring what the buffalo thinks or feels interferes with dinner plans. Talking might distract us from our mission and alert the buffalo. Not being aggressive enough or persistent in purpose meant we would not eat.

We protect those we love. We make scientific discoveries. What we lack in finesse, we can compensate for in willingness to learn. We are not knuckle dragging troglodytes.

The G spot was discovered by Dr Grafenberg, a man. Women's satisfaction matters to us. We work with spades and clubs, and yet, what would they be without hearts and diamonds to complement them.

Now, she is writing a book called The Male Brain. Grrr. Instead of burying her head in Scientific Journals, she needs to read some books to broaden her perspective.

I recommend other authors such as David Buss, Richard Dawkins, Helen Fisher, and Secret Psychology of How We Fall In Love by Paul Dobransky MD, which is a how to book about the courtship process, and contains resources for dealing with anxiety, low self esteem and depression.

I hope you find this review helpful.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it!, 31 July 2009
By 
Paolo Spalla (Florence, Italy) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Female Brain (Hardcover)
This book should be read by every man before approaching every woman. They will be less astonished and even less scared and, above all, they will be more respectuful and supporting. A great revailing lecture.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A difficult concept presented in a fun way, 25 May 2007
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Female Brain (Paperback)
This book is a serious scientific work but presented in such a way as to make it easy reading - thus proving that a serious subject need not be dry and dusty. The authoress simply explains the physical and functional differences between the brains of men and women and illustrates it with experiences of her own and that of her friends and colleagues. The science is used to support and explain these observations. A really fun book and one which may encourage more women to continue in the sciences.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars probably won't have many male fans, 2 Dec. 2007
This review is from: Female Brain, the (Paperback)
I'm not a huge fan of this book, and probably few males are. Honestly, it seems like thinly veiled male bashing, and I've read that some of the references cited by the author are questionable. For example, the 20000 female spoken words per day versus 7000 male words per day claim. I'd like to meet the person, ANY person, who on average speaks 20000 words a day; that number seems more than a bit high unless you're an auctioneer, not to mention the supposed 3:1 ratio in words between women and men. Another problem I have with this book is that it uses vague generalities to describe supposedly prototypical women and men, without acknowledging the vast differences in personality and behavior between individuals within each gender. There is also an overemphasis on sex hormones versus neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine, where such neurotransmitter systems probably play a prominent role in encoding many of the characteristics the author ascribes to hormones. On the other hand, the author is good at conveying complex subject matter in simple language, and has a pleasing style of writing. I also think she genuinely cares about her patients, and this comes through in her writing. Overall, worth taking a look. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Women think differently, 27 May 2007
This review is from: The Female Brain (Paperback)
The Female Brain presents a wealth of hard facts to explode the myth of 1970s feminism that differences between men and women's thought processes are caused mainly by upbringing. Partly anecdotal and partly based on neuroscience and brain scans, it shows that much of the difference between male and female behaviour is caused by differences in the physiology of the brain, and the chemicals at work there. Dr Brizendine describes how men's and women's brains are the same up to the eighth week in the womb. Then a surge of testosterone causes a divergence in the development of the male brain. In particular it kills some of the cells in the communicative areas of the brain, and boosts the areas dealing with aggression and sex. Later, the different reactions of women can be clearly traced through brain scans. The physiological differences in the female brain are shown to explain the facts that women are four times more likely to cry than men; that women use 2-3 times as many words in a day than men; and that women think about sex about once a day while men think about it several times an hour. This is not surprising as the area of the women's brains devoted to sex is less than half of that in men's brains.

The specific differences discussed are often very interesting - for example it has been found that adolescent girls get similar levels of pleasure from the sharing of confidences, secrets and intimacies with a network of other girls as boys get out of sex. The chemicals (dopamine and oxytocin) released in the female brain by the sharing of confidences deliver "the biggest, fattest neurological reward you can get outside of an orgasm".

Sometimes the conclusions are a little over the top. For example, it is suggested that a woman's brain, "manoeuvring like an F15, is like a high performance emotion machine...geared to tracking, moment by moment...the innermost feelings of others". But this is an exception. The text is backed by over 50 pages of scientific, neurological, medical and psychological references, and the hard facts Dr Brizendine presents to support what may previously have seemed like airy generalisations about the differences between the sexes should make this book - which is brightly written throughout - essential reading for men as well as women.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A brief, general encounter of the female brain, 3 Feb. 2009
By 
Nicola Jarvis (Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Female Brain (Paperback)
This book is quite fun to read and highly accessible even to people that have no background in science or biology. Although the research and the findings are serious, Brizendine uses examples of her prior patients to explain her meanings and she is very good at this. I am absolutely useless at science, but I was not baffled by anything she had to say.

This work has a hundred pages of references, which, on the surface, seems to reinforce its scientific findings, but the references are not easy to follow. The book sometimes takes a tone of suggestion or theory rather than exact science, since no signifiers of a reference or footnotes are made within the main body of the work itself. You therefore have to keep flipping to the back to see which of her statements are backed up by research and which statements are simply her own. Without the distinction, which statements do we take as facts, and which do we take as her own theory? Do we want to keep flipping to the back to find out? Not really.

I therefore read this book with a pinch of salt, especially in light of her sweeping generalisations. Although Brizendine mentions the nature vs nurture debate in her infant chapter, she carries on as if she has said nothing and focused only on nature, which is the core of my disappointment with this book. 'The Female BRAIN' may be a bit misleading. Personality and individuality has no place here, only hormones, genetics and what she calls the 'Stone Age' brain. As I read through some of these chapters, I felt, once again that I was an outsider looking in on the usual stereotypical behaviours of women that I have little in common with.

There is very little detail in this book and may lead you to asking more questions than finding answers. Brizendine focuses only on the stereotypical female and whilst she seems to understand and sympathise with males, there is still a tainted stench of female superiority in between the lines that I did not enjoy. Having said that, it makes for a great light read and perhaps a good starting point if the subject matter interests you. I thoroughly enjoyed the chapter on sex and forming romantic relationships as the theories were all new to me, but overall, it's just too general and gliding to be taken that seriously.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read on how we are essentially still cave people and the obvious female/male differentials we live with today., 2 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Female Brain (Paperback)
I read this book a few years ago and now I have a 5 year old daughter, I thought I'd have another skim through and see if I had a different perspective as a mum and to see if there was anything I didn't pay attention to the first time around.

The refresh was well worth it, not only from a good parenting perspective but also with one eye on the workplace and how to cope with some of the cave behaviour that's needed there to not just get by but also to get on.

We forget in this lovely digital age, that it wasn't so long ago in the lifetime of humans, that we were very much focused on the basics of food and shelter. Those behaviours ingrained in a millennia of development are still there for our survival and expecting our 'evolved' species to forget it all is unrealistic. If nothing else this gives an insight into the why females and males have a different outlook on so many things and therefore what you can do to adapt to that to achieve your aims - even if they are as simple as having a conversation that makes sense from both perspectives.

None of us will be alive when our science eventually can explain all of this, but at least this book starts to have a go.
Many thanks Dr Brizendine.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Female Brain
The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine MD (Paperback - 2 Jan. 2008)
£7.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews