louann brizendine

TestosteroneDr. Louann Brizendine, author of “The Male Brain”, wrote a fascinating piece for CNN that walks you through the male brain from pre-adolescence till doddering grand-dad days. Here’s a choice bit:

“Perhaps the biggest difference between the male and female brain is that men have a sexual pursuit area that is 2.5 times larger than the one in the female brain. Not only that, but beginning in their teens, they produce 20 to 25-fold more testosterone than they did during pre-adolescence.

If testosterone were beer, a 9-year-old boy would be getting the equivalent of a cup a day. But a 15-year-old would be getting the equivalent of nearly two gallons a day. This fuels their sexual engines and makes it impossible for them to stop thinking about female body parts and sex.”

Personally, I’m fascinated by the chemistry of the human body. Rather than use biology as a catch-all excuse for how we are, I see it as better knowing what instincts and biological imperatives we have to account for as we make our way towards a mutually beneficial society that requires a layer of reason beyond our base urges to function. As the father of twin girls, you can imagine the “oh you’re in for it” conversations I have about their teen years and beyond, but I’m hoping like hell I can give them the knowledge and understanding of the WHY of how men are driven by biology so that they’ll make better choices down the road. Even so, I can assure you I still have my quiet internal freak-outs when I imagine those years.

I’ve joked many a time with female friends that they’ll never, ever understand the ridiculous power of testosterone (and how it drives our behavior), so to that end I’m also including a link to a 2002 This American Life episode that dealt entirely with that oh, so vexing hormone. Not only do we hear from a man who makes his way through life completely devoid of it (and consequently devoid a sense of desire at any level), but a woman who experimented with testosterone and gained a singular insight into the male psyche. It’s one of my favorite episodes of T.A.L., and I heartily recommend giving it a listen.

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