Heroes Rogues and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior

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9780071357395: Heroes Rogues and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior

Since the early 1970s, when studies of testosterone first gained wide public attention, this principal male sex hormone has taken the rap for a range of characteristics or behaviors, including low intelligence, rape and "road rage". The truth is both remarkably more complex and more interesting scientifically.

From prehistory to the present, testosterone has played a significant role in the development of human society as well as in romantic, marital and parental relationships. It affects women as well as men in such areas as language ability, cognition, and spatial orientation.

Interweaving intimate case histories with first hand scientific research, Heroes, Rogues and Lovers engagingly explains the animal within us all, revealing testosterone's function in human evolution and its role in surprising links between animal and human behaviors.

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Review:

A fascinating and timely study of the hormone testosterone and its varied effects on individuals and society.

From the Back Cover:

"A riveting account of one of the most underestimated biological influences on human behavior. I have taught that the relationship between testosterone and behavior is too subtle and complex to describe simply. No longer. Dabbs' remarkable work in the 'nineties changes all that for good. No one interested in human behavior can ignore this book."

­­Melvin Konner, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Tangled Wing and the forthcoming Being Human.

"James Dabbs's timing couldn't be better. For too long, the fascinating science of testosterone has lacked a champion. Dabbs has written a book that not only beautifully and readily illuminates the testosterone story but does so with the precision and honesty crucial to such an important topic."

­­Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize-winning Author of Sex on the Brain.

"Dabbs' distinguished work on testosterone sheds new light on much of modern life. And it's a good read-full of animal stories, poetry, and insights about history, pop culture, and the dance between the sexes."­­Helen Fisher, Ph.D., Author of The First Sex.

"A terrific book-a fascinating blEND of hard science and engaging stories that keep readers mesmerized. From acting to amorousness, from con-men to caprice, Dabbs shows how the tENDrils of testosterone touch so many areas of our lives. After reading this book, you will never look at lovers or lawyers in the same way."

­­David M. Buss, Ph.D., Author of The Evolution of Desire and The Dangerous Passion: Why jealousy is as Necessary as Love and Sex.

"A delightful read that builds a solid scientific case for hopefulness regarding our capacities to love, respect and understand each other."­­Ann Druyan, Co-author with Carl Sagan of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.

"A remarkable book. By examining the ways in which our hormones interact with various aspects of the situation to affect a wide range of social behavior, Dabbs has illuminated our understanding of human beings as social animals. A pioneering piece of work. Scientifically sound, engagingly written, and bursting with wit and wisdom."

­­Elliot Aronson, Ph.D., Author of The Social Animal and Nobody Left to Hate.

While testosterone has been the object of scientific scrutiny for more than 150 years, it was not until the landmark studies of the 1970s that it gained wide public attention. Since then, a curiously conflicting body of myths and misconceptions has grown up around the "male" hormone, based more in ancient superstition and contemporary sexual politics than scientific fact. Portrayed as a kind of "demon seed," testosterone is routinely blamed for everything from rape to road rage, low IQ to violence. Yet, at the same time, it is commonly equated, by both sexes, with virility, sex appeal, heroism, and technical skill. But, as psychologist James McBride Dabbs explains in Heroes, Rouges, and Lovers, a fascinating exploration of the role of testosterone in human behavior, the truth about testosterone is both much subtler and more scientifically interesting.

A comparatively small molecule composed of twenty-one carbon and oxygen atoms, testosterone serves a variety of important functions in both men and women. Among other things, it signals cells to build muscle, make new red blood cells, and to release neurotransmitters in the brain. In both sexes, it is also the chemical precursor to estrogen, into which it is transformed by the subtraction of a single carbon atom. What makes testosterone so significant from a psychosocial perspective is the fact that it is one of the few hormones that interact directly with the brain, where it exerts a powerful influence on our perceptions of ourselves and the world around us.

In Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers, Dr. Dabbs provides us with a highly engaging overview of the state of knowledge about testosterone and its impact on human psychology, from prehistory to the present. Drawing upon original studies conducted with more than 8000 men, women, and children, as well as the world literature on the subject, he interweaves intimate case histories with first-hand scientific research to explore testosterone's role in virtually every aspect of human mind and destiny. He describes how it affects everything from language ability, cognition, and spatial orientation, to the occupations we enter, and what kind of lovers, husbands, wives, and parents we become, even the way we smile. He explains how testosterone accounts for some of the differences in the ways that average men and women think and communicate, and he offers suggestions about how to minimize misunderstandings and overcome these differences. He also shares the latest findings about the connections between testosterone and criminal behavior, altruism, and aggression, as well as surprising recent revelations about which professions display both the highest and lowest concentrations of testosterone. And he explores testosterone's role in human evolution and how this most social of hormones has influenced the development of human society, from the start.

Offering a fresh look at the most maligned, most misunderstood of human hormones and its affects on human behavior, Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers is a fascinating and informative read for anyone interested in the biological origins of human behavior.

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