Physical Differences

Excerpted from Swallowed by a Snake

Tom Golden LCSW

The underlying nature of men and women is different in many ways. A good place to start are the physical differences. It has been recently theorized that the hormone prolactin is related to a man's having less access to the use of emotional tears. Prolactin is a hormone that is instrumental in emotional tear production. It seems that levels of prolactin drop at about the time a young boy enters adolescence. It is theorized that this drop makes it more difficult for boys (and later men) to access emotional tears. This physical difference tells us that a man will be less likely to access his tears in grief due in some part to physiological reasons. I can remember the distance I had from emotional tears as an adolescent. I can now understand this in a different way, knowing that a part of that change was probably physiological. This difference can be seen around the world in various cultures and is not limited to North America. Men tend to cry less following a loss.

Another physical difference is provided by research which indicates that men and women have significant differences in brain structure. One of these differences was reported in Time magazine in an article which described the corpus callosum as thicker in women's brains than in men's. The corpus callosum is a structure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. One hypothesis theorizes that this difference gives a woman a greater connection between her verbal capacity and her feelings, and leaves a man less able to verbalize feeling states. If this hypothesis is true, it would help explain why men tend toward activity in engaging their grief. It would also help us in understanding the perennial problem in relationships where women are left baffled about why their men don't talk as freely as they do about their feelings.

Excerpted from Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing pages 73-74.
Tom Golden LCSW

Tom Golden is a professional speaker, author, and psychotherapist whose area of specialization is healing from loss and trauma. You can find out more about Ton's private practice here. Tom gives workshops across the country and in Canada on many aspects of this topic. His workshops are known to be both entertaining and informative. Contact Tom at the addresses below (email or snail mail) for inquiries about speaking or training for your group. You can also order his book Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing on this site or through


Tom Golden LCSW
 P.O. Box 83658
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20883
301 670-1027