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Left/Right Brain?
Genetic Sex Differences

The following excerpt (slightly modified) about right/left brain sex/ sexual/ sexuality differences is from the Women and Men chapter of a self-help psychology & therapy book Be Your Own Therapist - Whoever You Hire Is Just Your Assistant. (Copyright 1995/ graphics differ from book.)


LEFT BRAIN - RIGHT BRAIN

There is such confusion about this matter! Let me simplify - the verbal, sorting, detail-oriented side of the brain is the left, whereas the spatial intuitive nonverbal side is the right. Who is more verbal, the average man or woman? By a wide margin, of course, the answer is the woman. She speaks twice as many words as the man and has done so even before the age of two. Boys and men are much more nonverbal, usually preferring physical spatial activities even as small toddlers. So the evidence is clear that women hang out more in their left brains, whereas men tend to hang out more in their right brains.

Am I saying that beer-guzzling/ TV-glued/ sex-driven man in your life is more intuitive than you, the average woman? Yes, for he senses a situation and takes action intuitively (though his responses may be very restricted). He does not go through a long internal verbal process in choosing his path - he reacts, knowing it is right for him to do so. Intuition is defined (Oxford, 1980, s.v. "intuition") as "the power of knowing or understanding something immediately without reason or being taught." He responds immediately with sexual feeling to sex objects (no planning or long decision making process for him in these matters). This is an immediate response to his sexual feelings (i.e., right brain work). If you say something he doesn't want to hear, he will not respond verbally, but spatially as he moves to the TV to watch hockey reruns. He senses your words are wrong for him, and his intuitive response is to move away. As a woman, on the other hand, you may have long debates in your head before you come to make a decision or take some action. Such internal thinking and debating are left brain activities.

Note to Women. Men are not generally as comfortable on the verbal side of their brains as you are. When you say to them "let's talk," you are asking them to join you in an activity in which most men feel somewhat inferior to you. As soon as possible, many men therefore will opt out of talking to return to their preferred nonverbal spatial activities.

There is major confusion between the words intuition and creativity. Intuitive people are not necessarily creative, some just keep duplicating old ruts without much conscious left brain thinking. Creative people, on the other hand, manage successfully (though perhaps only temporarily) in the intuitive right brain.

Major contributors to the confusion about left-right brain activity are feelings, which usually have been attributed to the right brain. It has been a recent societal value to consider right brain activities as more desirable. Yet some recent research suggests that happy feelings reside in the left brain and unhappy feelings in the right brain. Who wants to rush to be the right-brained person now?

Because men do seem to have more difficulty with feelings, it has been often believed that men must not be in the right half of the brain. On the contrary, they often compensate for their difficulties with certain feelings by feeling others. Typical compensations are: (1)they may feel sexual in all sorts of situations that are not particularly sexual, (2)they may just head for their TV addiction instead of hanging out with an uncomfortable feeling or (3)they may get angry in situations that might call for a different response. Men, when they repress their feelings, do not routinely move to the verbal left brain. They often stay in the right brain and compensate by feeling other feelings or by choosing some addictive behavior.

Thus, I make the following assertion that is contrary to much published information: women are more left-brained, men are more right-brained, perhaps 80-90% of men and women.* (My thanks to Patricia Sun for planting in my brain the possibility of this being the truth .)

Test Yourself for Left-Right Brain Tendencies. A one-question quiz (without scientific basis) may give you a good clue. The question is - "Assuming you hold up your share of the words, do you usually spend significantly more than an hour each week on personal phone calls?" If you do, you have left-brain tendencies. If you don't, you have right-brain tendencies.

Of course, many situations are more complex or are exceptions: (1)many men and women don't fit the typical mold, (2)lefthanders often are the exception, (3)the average woman may have better access to both halves of the brain and (4)men often seem to shift from wholly left to wholly right and back rather than find a middle ground with ready access to both halves (as might the average woman). These more complex situations tend to confuse us.

Each of us would do well to examine our own favorite brain location. Historically, women and men have tended to cluster in occupations that fit the above described right-left brain tendencies. The choice of our jobs is vital to our happiness (see Chapter 14).Selections based upon some socially-correct view of today, instead of our own natural inclinations, could well produce much unhappiness in our lives.

Non-traditional job opportunities are vital for that significant minority of both men and women whose natural gifts (and favored sides of the brain) are non-traditional. Because men and women have different preferred sides of the brain, it seems a faulty goal to have a 50-50 female-male balance as a societal goal in any occupation that is left-right brain oriented. (On the other hand, equal opportunity is desirable, as is equal pay for equal work.)

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Left/Right Brain? Genetic Sex Differences @1999