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The Female Brain

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  6,437 ratings  ·  1,096 reviews
Every brain begins as a female brain. Some become male eight weeks after conception, when excess testosterone shrinks the communications center, reduces the hearing cortex & makes the part of the brain that processes sex twice as large. Louann Brizendine, M.D. is a neuropsychiatrist who brings together the latest findings to show how the unique structure of the female...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Morgan Road Books (NY) (first published 2006)
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The Gift of Fear by Gavin de BeckerGames People Play by Eric BerneDarkness Visible by William StyronThe Female Brain by Louann BrizendineInfluence by Robert B. Cialdini
50 Psychology Classics
4th out of 51 books — 2 voters
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Interesting and Readable NonFiction
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jennie
This book pissed me off more than anything I've read in a long time. In fact, I think the last thing I hated this much was Sharp Teeth. And this piece of drivel was way worse.

This crazy bitch makes Dr. Laura look like a raging feminist. I understand that this woman is a doctor and I get that she thinks she was doing the world a favor by explaining why women are the way they are. HOWEVER, she takes a very stereotypical view of women and does not make any allowances for women whose behavior is di...more
Jason Koivu
The way some men talk about women I'd assumed they'd think The Female Brain was a work of fiction, "'Cuzzin' womens ain't got none brains, heeyuck, heeyuck!" It's too bad that most of those guys are illiterate, because they're the ones that need to read this the most.

In The Female Brain, neuropsychiatrist Dr. Louann Brizendine uses clinical research and the experience of counseling patients to examine how the many various hormones flowing through a woman's body may affect their actions and behav...more
David Rim
Sep 28, 2007 David Rim rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: noone
The takeaway from this book is that the average woman is a hyper-sensitive control freak ruled by hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, oxytocin, testosterone in the same way that some people feel they're controlled by the movement of the stars. These hormones in turn are determined by a combination of genetics and rearing but developed over time as a reaction to evolutionary necessities. All of which enforce behavior which you know of as a set of common stereotypes. There's not much scientif...more
Veronica
I stopped reading this book on page 68.

It's amazing I made it that far. Part of me thinks I should finish the book because I should know what is inside. People not only like to come to me for gender advice, but also test my boundaries on "gender roles." A friend loaned me this book, I believe as a way to see what my expert opinion of it would be. I have no idea how she feels about it.

It frightens me to think this was a NY Times Best Seller. Oh, the masses who read this and loved it!

You know what...more
Heather
Feb 02, 2009 Heather rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone looking to dismiss females as irrational. Females who look to excuse their bad behavior.
Chauvinists around the world will thank Dr. Brizendine for her pop-science oversimplification excuse of a book that will add a modicum of misplaced credibility to the belief that women are powerless over their emotions an hormones.

"Don't tell me it's not your period, honey! Dr. Brizendine proved that you are powerless over the hormones in your brain! It's ok!" *pat,pat* "Why don't you take a Xanax and zone out in front of an episode of Grey's?"

This book irritated me beyond belief. I think any pe...more
Katie
Aug 30, 2007 Katie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: recommended
Okay, this is serious. We ALL need to read this, and we need to get our significant others to read it, too. This author is a neuropsychiatrist and she analyzes how we (women) work (in easy to understand language) and why we do the things we do with regard to our moods, our biology and our evolutionary inclinations. It is infinitely interesting and lends an amazing insight into how we as women function on a daily basis. She also does a bit of the same for the male gender and it is really very eye...more
Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Khalid
The Female Brain is a science book that discusses the physical and psychological aspects of the female brain. It will teach you how the female brain works, and why does it work the way it does.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and learned a lot by reading it. It contains enough science that you feel convinced yet not bored, and enough stories that entertain you along the way.

To be honest, I didn't like it at first when she started talking about females as super human beings, and how we...more
Lori Carpenter
Dec 20, 2007 Lori Carpenter rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Wow! Where to begin! Julie recommended this book to me. I'd suggest all women read it; especially those going through changes in life and these can be the obvious, like menopause, to your girls going through puberty. It will definitely keep me more patient and "grounded" as Ellie goes through puberty to remember not to take things personally and to remember what she is going through.

I did find it interesting/comical that she listed each stage of life separately. Which is obvious, but I kept thi...more
Audrey Babkirk Wellons
Apr 28, 2008 Audrey Babkirk Wellons rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Audrey by: Aunt Barb
I'm extremely wary of "science" on the cognitive differences between men and women, because I feel like it's often used as an argument for women's inferiority. (For instance, a recent Washington Post op-ed used that fact that women's brains are smaller to suggest that women were "just a little bit dim.") So I was ready to be disgusted by this book -– but instead I find myself recommending it to women I know and considering it for my next book club pick. It's a straightforward, engaging read that...more
Kate
Apr 07, 2008 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone - women and men
Recommended to Kate by: Shea DiDonna
This book is amazing. I normally do not read books like this, but it is so worth it. Dr Brizendine describes the various stages of the female brain, from fetus through menopause and all the changes in between. I now find myself looking at Louisa and thinking how her brain is begging for reassurance that she's doing 'it' right. Then looking at myself, current owner of the 'mommy brain'. Amazing. I really appreciated how the author presented the material to explain actions of individuals while aff...more
Rosytown
Nov 14, 2012 Rosytown rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nobody
There are two things that you MUST know before reading this book.
1 - The author received the 2006 Becky Award, which is given to 'people or organizations who have made outstanding contributions to linguistic misinformation'.
2 - There are a myriad of doctors and experts (male and female) who dispute the science in this book. One such 'fact', regarding the usage of words per day has been removed in current printings due to it's inaccuracy.

On the positive side of things, I found small pockets of th...more
Chloe
The train wreck started with the initial characterization of the hormones. Establishing the hormones with a particular gender and giving them “jobs” that fit with gender roles does not bode well for the hope to see an objective look at the female brain without sexist stereotypes or gender roles muddling the examination of evidence.

Then it got into the book. At the beginning, it casually implied that PMS is scientifically valid. I was disappointed in that since there are quite a few medical profe...more
Heather
This book was pretty interesting though too chatty in style for me - a common fault of 'mass market' science books. It talks about the hormone and other neurochemical differences between women and men, nothing in it was too earth shattering and I did still have a nagging voice in the back of my head complaining that this was essentialist/reductive/oversimplified...but the actual mechanics of neural processes being different were interesting, and the chapter discussing the "mommy brain" was both...more
Eric
On what I found out about the female brain: Dammit! They're smarter than us. I wish I had this book a couple years ago. But seriously, intelligence is relevant and this book is not about that. Instead, it's about the different ways in which both brains operate.

In no way is this book fluff, which is what someone coming across the title, and in light of its mainstream success, might think. What this book is, is an attempt to understand the circuitry of the female brain; which, hasn't been thourou...more
Rajesh
Jan 03, 2012 Rajesh rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
First off, I'm not in the target audience intended by the author, as I understand this book is written for women. However, my approach to this book was to understand any scientific advances in the field of biology that finds interesting difference between the sexes. In this regard, I think the book fails. Firstly, it constantly talks about proximate rather than distal causes as in "estrogen triggers this circuit during this time that causes this". This perhaps is interesting to a clinician, but...more
Megan
I mostly really liked this book. It is a somewhat scientific book that describes the effect of hormones on the female brain from birth through death, specifically examining puberty, child-bearing and rearing, menopause, etc.
I was left feeling like the worst parts of myself are all controlled by my hormones. And that the best parts of myself, are also a product of my hormones. It made me wonder what my personality would be left with once I didn't have any hormones? It was really educational and i...more
Emily
The book does take a very general view on the topic, and there were a lot of things she mentioned in the book that I already knew, and there wasn't much that changed my outlook already of what I've already gathered and heard about the female brain. However, that is because I realized this book is more about offering biological, and strictly, chemical/hormone explanation for women's behavior. It is not as psychological as I expected it to be. Its more of a verification of general ideas we already...more
Victoria
You know an author is out to prove something when she states that she attended Harvard, Yale, and Berkeley within the first page of her book. Furthermore, you know she wants to be taken seriously when she keeps repeating this claim to fame every few pages and also reminds you of all the thousands of cases she has seen while working at her clinic. What you don't know, however, is why someone who claims to be so experienced relies solely on anonymous studies and personal anecdotes about herself, u...more
Monica
My mom recommended it, I think, because she was overjoyed to discover a scientific rationale for her new-found post-menopausal selfishness (which I think is a good thing for her...to be selfish after decades of tending to others).

I felt a bit "meh" about the book...while the science and anthropological studies were mildly interesting, if a little cursory, the anecdotal "tales from the couch" were really annoying, in the way that, say, "The Tyra Banks Show" and women's magazines are annoying.
Nicole
I thought this book was an interesting exploration of the specific structures of the female brain. While I do think that it was a worthwhile read, I wish the author had delved a bit deeper than she did. That said, it is for a trade audience so it is understandable that some of the more technical elements might have been left out. Overall it's a good book to challenge the way we think about sex differences and the whole nature vs. nurture argument.
Sonia
Apasionante estudio del efecto de las hormonas en el cerebro femenino y como estas influyen en nuestro comportamiento a lo largo de todas las etapas de la vida. Pese a la terminología cientifica que utiliza en ocasiones es un libro muy ameno ya que intercala historias reales de pacientes de la autora como apoyo y explicación de diferentes reacciones.
Jen O'Brien
I think that a lot of people are up in arms about a book that they clearly don't understand. This book is about the brain chemistry of why woman think they way that they do and does not at all intend to make anyone some superior or inferior in the relationship. I used to be one of these hyper feminist bra burning individuals, then I turned 30. Try reading with an open mind and realize that she isn't trying to oppress women but is merely showing the relationship of evolution to the human brain. S...more
Raphael Lysander
The good thing about this book is showing that sex differences are not inequality, but just the reality and nature. Nevertheless, the book isn't actually about the female brain but about the female hormones ! And since that wouldn't have been interesting and grist-to-the-mill, the author chose the previous one, without much care about truthfulness.
The book makes hormones the propeller of women's lives, and though the author refers quickly and shyly that hormones don't make one person bad or goo...more
Becca
I think that this book is a MUST READ for everyone. For me, understanding some of the neurological differences between men and women, and some of the basic norms of women has really started to shift my thinking about people and their actions (including myself). realizing that some of the things that I though just some men do, are really things that all men are prone to do, and some of my own thoughts and actions dont' make me such a freak. I grew up very much a tom-boy, and having more male frie...more
Paulo O'Brien
Here's a blog I wrote about this book:

Just finished the book "The Female Brain." Wow ... I can see that I needed more insight into what you ladies are dealing with ... and am so glad for the increased knowledge!

Every 28 days or so, your brain is bobbing in a surging sea of fluctuating hormones. (Although I haven't read her book "The Male Brain" yet, I'm know that men must be much more boring.) I can see how a better understand of your own and your friends' cycles could improve your social networ...more
Rebekka Steg
"Did you know that every brain begins as a female brain and that it only becomes male eight weeks after conception? This is when excess testosterone shrinks the communication centre, reduces the hearing cortex and makes the part of the brain that processes sex twice as large."
- from the back cover.
[Image]
The author of The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine has a degree in neurobiology from University of California, Berkeley and graduated from Yale's School of Medicine. Post-graduation she has work...more
Rachel
I found this book to be fascinating! Brizendine looks at biological bases for male and female cognitive & emotional differences and how hormones influence the way woman's brain functions throughout her life cycle. Some of her assessments felt subjectively true to me. Others were shocking and I had to read passages aloud to Andrew to see if he thought they accurately reflected a general male experience. This was especially true during the section comparing the female and male teenage brains....more
Miranda
Books of this type often lose its ground. In an attempt to fill itself out, it goes off topic and outlives its point. However, Louann Brizendine's The Female Brain is dense with information. I compulsively highlighted every page. It was all fascinating.

I have tried to insert Brizendine's finds in everyday conversation, but I was surprised to find friends weren't as enthralled as I was. What at first seemed like common sense (girl talk, PMS, motherhood) turned into something I re-discovered throu...more
Aerin
I found this a fast and interesting book about the basic changes in brain chemistry a woman faces in her life. This isn't a hard science book, but she does provide many references and notes in the back if you want to read more thoroughly on the subject.

Research into how hormones and chemicals in the brain affect us throughout our lives is only just beginning. This book brings a first look at some of the important work out there and the need for more to be done.

As a woman and a biologist, I dis...more
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Tried to read this, but... 9 141 Oct 01, 2012 02:51PM  
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Louann Brizendine, M.D. is a practicing clinician, best-selling author, public speaker and media commentator who specializes in the relationship dynamics that result from the neurobiology of male and female brains.

She completed her degree in Neurobiology at UC Berkeley, graduated from Yale School of Medicine and did her internship and residency at Harvard Medical School. She has also served on bot...more
More about Louann Brizendine...
The Male Brain El cerebro femenino. Las claves cientificas de como piensan y actuan las mujeres y las ninas El cerebro masculino. Las claves cientificas de como piensan y actuan los hombres y los ninos

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“Women have less direct relationship to anger...When a woman "bites" her tongue to avoid expressing anger, its not at all socialization. A lot of it is brain circuitry. Even if a woman wanted to express her anger right away, often her brain circuits would attempt to hijack this response, to reflect on it first out of fear and anticipation of retaliation. Also, the female brain has a tremendous aversion to conflict, which is set up by fear of angering the other person and losing the relationship. Instead of triggering a quick action response in the brain, as it does in males, anger in girls and women moves through the brain's gut feeling, conflict-pain anticipation, and verbal circuits.
Scientists speculate that though a woman is slower to act out of anger, once her faster verbal circuits get going, they can cause her to unleash a barrage of angry words that a man cant match.
Typical men speak fewer words and have less verbal fluency than women, so they may be handicapped in angry exchanges with women.
Often when I see a couple who are not communicating well, the problem I see is that the man's brain's circuits push him frequently and quickly to an angry, aggressive reaction, and the woman feels frightened and shuts down.”
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“During times of physical separation, when touching and caressing is impossible, a deep, longing, almost a hunger, for the beloved can set in. We are used to thinking of this longing as only psychological, but it's actually physical. The brain is virtually in a drug-withdrawal state. During a separation, motivation for reunion can reach a fever pitch in the brain. Activities such as caressing, kissing, gazing, hugging, and orgasm can replenish the chemical bond of love and trust in the brain. The oxytocin-dopamine rush once again suppresses anxiety and skepticism and reinforces the love circuits in the brain. From an experiment we also know that oxytocin is naturally released in the brain after a twenty-second hug from a partner- sealing the bond between huggers and triggering the brain's trust circuits.” 10 likes
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