The Female Brain by M.D. Louann Brizendine

The Female Brain by M.D. Louann Brizendine

Author:M.D. Louann Brizendine [Louann Brizendine, M.D.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780767928410
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Published: 2007-08-06T16:00:00+00:00


Soon Sylvia and Robert came to see me together for another couple’s session. Unresolved issues for both of them had finally come to a head. Robert couldn’t believe what he was hearing. For instance, “Make your own damn dinner or go out by yourself. For the last time, I’m not hungry. I’m happy painting right now and I don’t feel like stopping.” He said she had snapped at him at a party two nights before when she offered a suggestion about investing in a group of stocks and he told her to stay out of the discussion because she didn’t know what she was talking about. He was the one who read Barron’s, after all. “Yeah, you keep reading it, and you keep losing money. Have you seen my portfolio lately? I’ve made three times the amount you’ve made, so stop belittling me,” she’d replied. Everything he said seemed to annoy her. She announced she was moving out.

When Sylvia was younger, she would do everything she could to avoid fights with her husband, even if she was really mad. Remember the tape that gets rolling during the teen years, when estrogen dials up the emotions and communication circuits—the one that makes a woman panic about any conflict as a threat to a relationship? That tape doesn’t stop rolling until a woman either consciously overrides it, or the supply of hormones that fuels it is cut off, or both. A time like now. All her life Sylvia had prided herself on being coy, accommodating, and willing to let her husband win—especially when he came home exhausted and on edge from the office. Her empathy for him was real. She kept the peace, as her Stone Age brain was compelling her to do, to keep the family together. Having a husband is good. We’re better protected this way. These were the messages keeping her from engaging in conflict. If Robert forgot their anniversary, she would bite her tongue. If he was verbally abusive after a long day at work, she stared straight into the stew she was stirring and didn’t respond.

But as Sylvia hit menopause, the filters came off, her irritability increased, and her anger wasn’t headed for that extra “stomach” anymore, to be chewed over before it came out. Her ratio of testosterone to estrogen was shifting, and her anger pathways were becoming more like a man’s. The calming effects of progesterone and oxytocin weren’t there to cool off the anger either. The couple had never learned to process and resolve their disagreements. Now Sylvia confronted Robert with regularity, venting decades of pent-up rage.

At their next session, it became clear that it was not all Robert’s fault. He was going through his own, more modest, life changes. But Sylvia still wanted to move out. Neither of them was yet aware of the changing reality in her brain, which was rewriting the rules not just for arguing but for every interaction of their relationship.


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