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Men and Women and Differences

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

Two recent studies came up with some interesting results that may seem obvious but I believe are important in confirming what we know and that is important. One study found that there really are differences in the brains of men and women. Pretty obvious, huh? Maybe not so obvious when you consider the fact that there was a time when it was thought that male-female behavioral differences were learned as a result of cultural attitudes and training.

Of course, the influence of culture should never be dismissed but it makes sense that male and female brains would be different if you simply consider the impact of hormones such as testosterone in men and estrogen in women. While it is true that all people have a certain amound of these hormones in their bodies, regardless of gender the ratio or amounts of each hormone are radically different. This study pointed out that the differences between male and female brains will deeply influence medical treatment. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease apparently affects males and female differently and this will result in different treatments.

Almost as a reinforcement of the study on brain differences another study revealed that mothers really are hard wired to meet the needs of their babies. For example, this study showed that mothers really are able to decipher the different types of crying from their babies and understand why they are crying. Mothers can detect the difference between a cry for feeding versus a cry from pain or discomfort. They can also hear the difference between the cries of their own baby versus that of someone else’s baby.

So, why do I think these studies are important beyond the implications for medical treatment?

If you remember, there was a period of time during the 1980’s and 1990’s when society moved in an androgenous direction out of the belief that there are no real male/female differences other than reproductive organs. Part of that androgenous movement was a result of the important and necessary women liberation movement. At the time it seemed as if society was claiming that there is a homogeneity to everything. There are basic differences that form the reality of life on our planet. However, "different" does not mean unequal. As the French have always said: "Viva la difference!" We need to celebrate difference and diversity while dismissing inequality on every level.

What are your thoughts about this issue?

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