After watching the film “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud (2007) in class on April 3, 2012, I noticed that one of the underlying issues, other than the obvious (dealing with a repressive government in power and leaving your family in order to live a life of freedom), was the main character’s mood swings and bout of depression.  These are issues that many women across the world deal with, even those that are lucky (live in a free country, have access to all resources needed, plus have a very supportive family) may also suffer from depression.

Growing up as a female, I have often heard, from both men and women, that women are just “hormonal” while others go as far as saying that all women are inherently “crazy.”  Both adjectives being used as an explanation or even an excuse for our mood swings, emotional outburst, and deep sensitivity.  However, many experts say that we are indeed prisoners to our hormones.  While some are lucky enough to have mild symptoms and not suffer from a very harsh sentence, others are stuck in it for life suffering of extreme highs and lows.

According to Louann Brizendine, M.D., author of The Female Brain, and Founder of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, “the female brain is so deeply affected by hormones that their influence can be said to create a woman’s reality.  They can shape a woman’s values and desires, and tell her, day to day, what’s important.”  She further explains women’s “condition” by the following statement:

“In all menstruating women, the female brain changes a little every day. some parts of the brain change up to 25 percent every month.  Things get rocky at times, but for most women, the changes are manageable.  Some of my patients, though, came to me feeling so jerked around by their hormones on some days that they couldn’t work or speak to anyone because they’d either burst into tears or bite someone’s head off.  Most weeks of the month they were engaged, intelligent, productive, and optimistic, but a mere shift in the hormonal flood to their brains on certain days left them feeling that the future looked bleak, and that they hated themselves and their lives. These thoughts felt real and solid, and these women acted on them as though they were reality and would last forever — even though they arose solely from hormonal shifts in their brains.  As soon as the tides changed, they were back to their best selves.”

There it is, haters, women are not crazy.  Women are simply victims, stuck in a body controlled by the levels of sex hormones flowing at any given time into their brains.  As scientists have stated, men and women have different brain sensitivities to stress and conflict.  Indeed, men and women use different parts of their brain to solve numerous different tasks such as language processing, problem solving, and the way they store or experience strong emotions.  “Women may remember the smallest details of their first dates, and their biggest fights, while their husbands barely remember that these things happened.  Brain structure and chemistry have everything to do with why this is so,” says Dr. Brizendine.  In fairness to men, while women should not be blamed for their outbursts, men cannot be blamed for being insensitive.


About Sil

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  1. jrcavileer says:

    Bonvillan talked about modern medicine, and how in the past “science” and psychiatry was used to paint women as unreliable, emotional, hormonal, etc. in order to reinforce the female’s role in society. I think this is just another case of that. And:

    “According to Louann Brizendine, M.D., *author of The Female Brain, and Founder of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic in the Department of Psychiatry at the University* of California, San Francisco, “the female brain is so deeply affected by hormones that their influence can be said to create a woman’s reality.”

    I don’t know how to bold, but I stared the part I wanted to emphasis. Seems like Louann is feathering her nest by promoting women as ‘victims’ of their hormones, that they are suffering a disease which her book and clinics can cure them of.

    I might be too critical. But entertain the idea that ‘women being emotional/crazy’ could be product of the society they are born into. I base this off Bonvillan of course, she could be wrong and Louann could be right. But my bias comes from a strong belief in the power of the human mind, sociological factors and their influence on our thinking, and the anthropological studies Bonvillan sites.. (I think it was chapter 8?)

    • Sil says:

      All good points that you bring up. I would guess that society does indeed have much to do with how women are perceived, but may not affect how they actually act at a chemical level. Since this biological conclusion is still not completely understood, this topic of science versus environment is what sparked my interest.
      In retrospect, perhaps saying women are victims to their hormones is a bit extreme. However, I do think it is important to understand that the way some women act is perhaps beyond their control due to the levels of hormones they have flowing in their brains – which affects their “better” judgement.
      Much like how there is sympathy for addicts, perhaps there should be a greater social understanding and reasoning behind some women’s emotional outbursts or lack of control. Addicts are, at times, looked at with compassion when they act inappropriately. This may be because society now understands that their addictive behavior is beyond their physical control due to their brain’s chemical imbalances.
      This is not to say that women get a free pass to act inappropriately, just like addicts don’t either, but it is mostly to bring an awareness to people before they go around calling some women “crazy.” Also, to establish a greater support system out there for females who do suffer of chemical imbalances. Nonetheless, like it has been stated by scientists themselves, there is still much research to be done so to fully understand what is really going on inside a female’s brain at a chemical level versus that of a male’s.

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