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In Sickness and In Health: What Every Man Should Know About the Woman He Loves.

For many men, the revelation that the female anatomy and its complex structure contribute to women's uniqueness will be a learning experience. It should heighten their appreciation of the role that the opposite sex plays in human compatibility.

Because a woman cannot be more like a man may sadden characters like Professor Henry Higgins of "My Fair Lady" fame, but it does not mean that to be female is to be deficient. The French, sometimes more gifted with worldly wisdom, toast and celebrate the disparity with "Vive la difference!"

Dr. O'Brien's contribution to the debate is timely and important. The recent best-selling book by Deborah Tannen, You Just Don't Understand., asks men and women to recognize that they speak to each other on different levels because of male-female misconceptions of each other. Certainly the call is for a recognition that anatomy makes a difference. The author has taken up the first part of such much needed scrutiny - how the physical apparatus and functioning of female organs can affect health and disease in women. The diagnosis of male singularity and unique vulnerability can come later.

Economic needs of the past and present have changed conceptions of woman's place in the home to that of equal partner in the workplace. But "equal" is a political term. There is nothing equal about the chore of working all day for salary and coming home to carry on the unpaid job of raising a family and providing food and care for a husband, also fatigued. Such stress and strain take their toll: more women now suffer from heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other stress-related diseases. Dr. O'Brien makes this point admirably without inviting arguments about the female's traditional place in the family.

"The more men and women know about each other," O'Brien notes, "the better their relationships become."

There was a time, Dr. O'Brien reminds the reader, when the concern for a woman's agony prior to menstruation (now officially recognized as premenstrual syndrome) was dismissed as female neurosis and "quackery" if a foresighted doctor attempted to deal with the problem on a medical basis.

The dilemmas of reproduction were seldom understood by the average man. His perspective of pregnancy and childbirth were usually fashioned by memories of the events as experienced by other family members. Few males comprehended the complexity and diversity of the individual woman's reaction to so monumental a change.

Having been a spectator to the bewildering stages of a woman's early life, men are even more confused by the specter of menopause and aging. Few men understand the upheaval occurring in both the female pysche and anatomy that attends menopause. Many women, who may not comprehend the phenomenon themselves, have managed to deal with these changes healthfully and admirably. Dr. O'Brien serves her readers well by explaining every aspect of the transformation.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1992
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