Does a ‘man’s brain’ or a ‘woman’s brain' exist? | Private Therapy Clinic
Saturday, 04 Aug 2018

Is there such a thing as a ‘man’s brain’ or a ‘woman’s brain'?

By Private Therapy Clinic

woman's brainFor generations, people have been discussing the cognitive differences, or lack thereof, between women and men. For many years, under patriarchal social systems, the received wisdom was that men and women thought in quantitatively different ways and, quite simply, that men had naturally greater intellectual prowess. This widely held view (together with the idea that academic achievement could damage women’s fertility, and similar notions) was used to justify the exclusion of women from most education and the vast majority of professions, with the result that poor women were only qualified for menial work, and wealthy women did not usually work at all. Of course, the fact that women were typically much less educated than men only enhanced the view that they were naturally less inclined to deep thinking. The few women who managed to acquire an education, like surgeon James (Margaret) Barry, often had to literally disguise themselves as men to do so.

Starting in the late nineteenth century, women gradually started to gain access to greater levels of education, and now it is perfectly clear that women are in no way the intellectual inferiors of men. In fact, in the UK today, more women than men graduate from university. So where does that leave the idea that women’s and men’s brains are radically different from one another?

Research shows that there are broad general tendencies between how men and women process knowledge, think, and arrive at conclusions. While that indicates that there may be some general differences between women’s and men’s brains, research also shows that differences are far greater within each category of biological sex than between women and men per se. Moreover, unlike other organs, the brain is ‘plastic’, which means that it continues to grow and develop throughout the course of our lives and doesn’t stop growing once we reach adulthood. This in turn means that it’s very difficult to tell if observed differences between women’s and men’s brains are because of their sex, or because of the different types of experiences they have had as they go through life.

So, can we really say that there is such a thing as a ‘man’s brain’ or a ‘woman’s brain’? The answer is both yes and no. If you are a man, you have a man’s brain, just as you have a man’s liver and a man’s set of kidneys. If you are a woman, you have a woman’s. Differences between the way you and other people think are more individual than anything else—your biological sex or feelings of gender are not the most important influences on your brain’s function by a long shot; no pathologist can look at a brain and tell if it came from a man or a woman. And, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what ‘sort’ of brain anyone has. What really matters is how they use it!

WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?

For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.

  • General

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check out other related articles

  • 19 Feb 2018

    Can I be happy on my own?

    Our society puts people under huge pressure to meet someone and settle down, to the extent that those of us who are single are often left wondering if there’s something wrong with us. Why don’t we want the same thing as everyone else?.....

  • 23 Aug 2012

    Moving beyond worry; what to do when worry gets excessive.

    By -Private Therapy Clinic Psychology Writer

    Anxiety is a human emotion that all people experience and despite the way it makes us feel, it one that still has an important role to play in everyday life. Anxiety does not bring about a particularly pleasant experience for any of us, but without it, our ancestors would surely not have been able t.....

  • 21 Aug 2014

    Something missing – Growing up with an emotionally unavailable Mother

    By -Registered Psychologist

    Growing up with a mother who is a quiet Borderline (Borderline Waif’s) mother or mother who is has Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be incredibly difficult for a child as your mum will be emotionally underdeveloped. - See more at: https://theprivatetherapyclinic.co.uk/growing-up-with-an-emotio.....