Ain’t It the Truth?

I’m reading Charles Murray’s Human Diversity, which I mention here. (It’s a book that leftists will hate, even though they won’t read it, just as they hated The Bell Curve without having read it.)

The following passage is consistent with my up-close and personal observations of women, which span more than six decades:

In the psychological literature, rumination refers to thoughts, typically autobiographical, that a person mentally rehearses over and over, usually not productively. When they are negative thoughts, rumination amounts to brooding. Taken to an extreme, rumination can become depression. In the 1990s, Susan Nolen-Hoeksema led several studies establishing that women were more likely than men to ruminate, particularly in response to negative events. In the early 2000s, two studies using brain imaging established a biological basis for those findings…. The finding in both studies was that males quickly became habituated to a stimulus—the response in the amygdala decreased rapidly after the first few exposures—whereas it persisted among women. In 2013, researchers at the Harvard Medical School (Joseph Andreano was the first author) tested whether this pattern replicated for both positive and negative stimuli. It did not. As in previous studies, men showed higher amygdala activity for novel stimuli than women no matter whether the stimulus was negative, neutral, or positive. For familiar positive stimuli, men again had a higher response than women. But when it came to negative stimuli, men quickly habituated while women continued to show substantial amygdala activity even after repeated exposure. The difference was large enough that it reached statistical significance despite the small sample size.

Now recall the table in chapter 2 that showed the prevalence of personality disorders by sex. Men had higher incidence rates on the autism spectrum, conduct disorders, ADHD, and schizophrenia, among others. Women had higher prevalence on another set, including three that involve rumination: major depression, generalized anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The findings I have just summarized point to a sex difference both in the intensity of initial reaction to negative stimuli and in the persistence of that reaction, which in turn point to a difference in rumination.

Amen. The world-class worriers-brooders-haters whom I have known were (and are) women.