Notebook entry, May 22, 2000
A very important new study will coming out in a future issue of Psychological Reviews of the American Psychological Association. A story in The Washington Post (5-19-00) by Curt Suplee tells us that, contrary to common knowledge, women use radically different ways for coping with stress. For decades, behavioral scientists have just assumed that in time of acute stress, both genders react with a "fight or flight" mechanism. But, new research by six UCLA psychologists argue that the vast majority of animals used in past studies were male rats, and in human studies, only about 17 percent of the test subjects were women. Through observations, the researches indicated that human and some animal females respond by what they call "tend and befriend."
When acute stress mounts, women are more prone to protect and nurture their children ("tend") and turn to social networks of supportive females ("befriend"). The tend and befriend response probably is tied to the hormone called oxytocin produced deep in the brain and distributed by the pituitary gland. Oxytocin is secreted at high levels in women during childbirth and aids in labor, but is found in both sexes after periods of stress, which appears to have a calming effect. It is know as the "cuddle hormone" amongst lay scientists.
What is important to me is that it adds strength to my theory in my observational work I did on Gender Differences in the DSM-IV. In that piece, I made the observation that it appeared that the behaviors of the women seemed to remain "home" while the male disorders tend to connect with moving or "roaming." Conventional wisdom concerning our primal past has males bonding with other males and going off to the hunt, while females remain at "home" and "befriend" with others females. It does not nail the theory to the wall of permanent science, but it does fit under the behavior mechanism umbrella. You may read my observations in the DSM-IV piece by clicking here.
Notebook entry, May 18, 2000
May 18th?? Where did the last two weeks go? Well, I have been busy with the day job as they have switched to increased automation, which means more work for me. It should be the other way around, but such is the nature of the beast in my business. The higher ups are dangling big carrots in front of my management and they in turn are turning the screws to increase productivity from the the people who really do the work. In the meantime upper management learns to spend more money on toys and programs that don't work. I'm not bitter. My job provides me and my family with enough to provide a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothes on our backs. What wrong is that it is a totally oppressive working environment that stifles inventive thought from the people who do the work. It is a caste system between workers and management with no room to buffer the two moving parts that sometimes scrape each other's nerves raw.
But to dull the pain of the oppressive working conditions, I turn inward and write. I find it intellectually stimulating and helps to relieve the frustrations of lack of control at my work place.. The first edit of my first book is done, but I have put that aside to finish an essay that had been growing in the past month since I heard about the new book, Without Sanctuary. It is a photographic book that details the lynchings of African-Americans in our Southland. I connected this with another book, called Hitler's Willing Executioners. The result is the essay entitled: The American and German Holocausts: Common Behavioral Threads as Seen From the Evolutionary Perspective.
From now until, late June or early July, I should be finalizing the final draft to my book.
Notebook entry, May 2, 2000
The May 8th issue, p. 58 of Time magazine arrived today with a short tale in honor of Mother's Day. Entitled: What Mother Nature Teaches Us About Motherhood, written by Jeffrey Kluger with a side bar viewpoint by Barbara Ehrenreich. A great illustration by Anita Kunz portraying a Madonna-mother-and-child; naked as primates, and perched comfortably in a tree draws the reader's interest into the article. Not much new stuff to learn from a biological perspective except that the "experts" cited in the article were women. It was a nice treat to me as two of the three women experts were suggested by myself in May of 1997 as the people to read to understand the female's viewpoint in regards to evolutionary thought. The very concept of all female experts being tapped by a male writer in one of the America's leading publications, is a first. (At least I can't remember any such article). Congratulations to Time magazine and to our culture. This is a much needed and important paradigm shift.
To read the open letter to my male gender where I recommended the female experts, click on: Evolutionary Psychology and the Male Gender: An Open Letter to My Gender.