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The Female Brain

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  11,685 ratings  ·  1,550 reviews
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. ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Morgan Road Books (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  11,685 ratings  ·  1,550 reviews

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Jan 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 30, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
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
Jason Koivu
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 behavior. It covers the emotional development and brain processes of women through the various stages of their lives, beginning at the beginning with childhood, moving through the tumultuous teens and the horror that is puberty and progress through womanhood into old age. ...more
David Rim
Sep 26, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Audrey Babkirk Wellons
Mar 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Audrey by: Aunt Barb
Shelves: social-sciences
Please do not believe what is said in this book before you check the references. Many of the assertions are false or a misinterpretation of facts.

Here a linguistics professor from the University of Pennsylvania fact-checks a short passage from "The Female Brain" and finds no evidence to support the book's claims about women talking more than men:

Delusions of Gender ( also dismantles many of the harmful claims in
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
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Lori Carpenter
Dec 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Kate Higgins
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: already-read
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
Nov 04, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NO ONE EVER
Shelves: dnf, non-fiction


This is an absolute true story: I got this book as a gift while I was living in my dad's apartment. I tried reading this and just absolutely couldn't because it was so fucking dumb. So i put it back on my bookshelf and resumed my life. YET i was unable to even look at this piece of shit on my sh
Dec 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
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 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.
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Feb 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Misogynists
Innately sexist and ignores social construction of gender. Emphasizes on biological determinism which is a major contributing factor into women's oppression. This book needs to go back to 1955! ...more

Thanks to this book, my mother and I hug more often in order to secrete oxytocin so she doesn't abandon me. It works.

Hooman Mazin
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
A must read book for all the men in all ages. The author explains the impact of chemical hormones in growth, change and development of women’s brain from childhood to motherhood and beyond. The book presents insightful neurobiological findings and concepts that are broken down into simple pieces suitable for general audience. I can imagine that some women may find the book obvious and not accurate. Yet, it presents a concise and simple view of female brain that men will probably find it worth re ...more
Dec 09, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: science-brain
This book needs no parody. Brain science in the service of silliness and stereotype truths about women... "With this accessible, fun guide, women will discover that they have a lean, mean communicating machine at their disposal -- and men will find that they finally have a key to understanding their relations with women" etc etc. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus plus amygdala drawings and synapses.

Which wouldn't be a problem except so many damned people bought it!
Jan 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookgroup
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
Erik Graff
May 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: psychology
This book was a delight to read. Having long decried supposed gender differences and endorsed a faith in the universality of reason, much of what Dr. Brizendine claims to be gender-characteristic of brains was definitely not what I wanted to read. However, her mix of challenging claims and anecdotal exemplifications of them worked very well towards making what could have been a very dull exercise into something fun and memorable.

Upon finishing the book I handed it off to the sixteen-year-old dau
Raphael Lysander
May 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 04, 2016 added it
Shelves: i-tried

Well. I did not finish this. I was looking for something based on science that could provide me with research studies and statistics, maybe some diagrams and charts. I wanted something that had actual content. What I got was a lot of opinion and stereotypes. I am very interested in learning about the differences in the female and male brain (like how the hippocampus is larger in the female brain and the amygdala is larger in the male brain) and how this affects us. But I also want the source mat

Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
This book seems to be fairly polarizing.

I was browsing through the reviews, and people either seemed to love it, or to hate it.

I'm really not in either camp.

I think I do agree that at times the author over-simplifies or makes generalizing statements. I also agree that she is at times patronizing. I think one thing I see a lot in reviews is people being offended by her stating something that doesn't portray women in the best light. I saw one review which cited the author as slut-shaming, based
AnnARegina Enyedi
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
After reading the first volume of Louann Brizendine as well, now I finally understand why many other readers have complained about her being too "feminist" or rude. Well, let's empathize with her, it's her first volume. :-)
I strongly suggest you to do as I did: read first The Male Brain, the later and more clear, transparent and evolved book to get used to her great style. Then of course you should read The Female Brain, which is... well... a bit
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was recommended to me by a (female) MD. Only afterward I saw all the one star reviews here. It's hilarious how offended people are by the idea that biology might make women's thinking different than that of men. Never mind that women's and men's different but complementary thought patterns and instincts are what allowed the human race to survive and evolve for, oh . . .
*** 6 millions years ***
The female traits that evolved over the course of millions of years have now been deemed embarassi
Dec 07, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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Divided Ratings 1 16 Jun 23, 2015 08:51AM  
Take Extra Precautions So That You Do Not Hurt Your Brain 1 13 Jun 22, 2015 03:10AM  
Tried to read this, but... 9 159 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

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If you've got an overflowing Want to Read shelf of books that you keep meaning to get to (one day!), you're in good company. Our company, that...
114 likes · 40 comments
“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.”
“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.” 13 likes
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