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Homosexuality for Neuroscience

Hello friends!

One of the basic texts for our Free Neuroscience Course is the book “The Formula for Happiness”, by Stefan Klein, who was praised by Antonio Damasio as the most important author on the subject in Germany. In this book, he mentions research he would like to share with you. I will quote some excerpts and comment later.

First of all, it is important to consider the facts and think about them carefully before making any value judgments. I’d also like to mention that I’m describing research that anyone can find if they want to go to the trouble of digging deep into the latest discoveries in neuroscience.

Homosexuality for Neuroscience

You guevedoces are a small population living in the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. Literally guevedoces means “testicles at 12 years old”, that is, the boy is born a boy, but his external organs are only visible at 12 years old, representing a rare case of false hermaphroditism. As they are apparently girls, they are raised as girls until puberty arrives and shows that they are not, in fact, girls (in external anatomy).

With the puberty hormones and the change in the external sexual organs, they begin to behave like boys and even court other girls, in line with the social customs for courtship in that region. In other words, neuroscientists argue that even though guevedoces have been raised as girls, to be girls, when physiology awakens they act like the brain and hormones guide the body to do, like boys.

Klein explains what happens to the guevedoceswhose prevalence in the Dominican Republic is 1 case for every 50 boys.

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“As with the physical constitution, the brain also follows a male or female pattern. This is determined during the first few weeks of pregnancy. It is at this stage of pregnancy, and under normal conditions, that the sexual organs and the brain develop simultaneously in the fetus. But this also occurs differently, according to the chromosomal patterns for men and women. That is why a child is usually born with a boy’s or girl’s brain, in correspondence with his external appearance” (KLEIN, 2005, 130).

And the neuroscientist from Germany continues:

“Between the guevedoces it is different, and this reinforces the explanation for a phenomenon discovered by scientists more than two decades ago. One of the two pathways is altered: while the brain develops normally in the mother’s womb, the sexual organs lag behind. So, the guevedoces are born with a boy’s brain and a girl’s body, and their example shows how the brain pattern established before birth determines future behavior in love” (KLEIN, 2005, 130). That is, independent of creation, of the environment.

But what is the importance of this rare condition of false hermaphroditism for the understanding of homosexuality?

According to Klein, “the case of guevedoces, for example, indicates that biology allows a wide margin for all variants of sexuality. Likewise, it is possible that physiological sex and the brain regions that control sexual desire develop in different ways. Nothing prevents a male body from containing the brain of a man who is attracted to other men” (KLEIN, 2005, p. 134).

Neuroscientist Simon LeVay has conducted extensive research in the brains of gay men. What he found ended up causing quite a stir in several groups, because the data indicated that the brain regions that control sexual preference in homosexual men are more similar to the female brain than the male brain.

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In other words, only and only in the parts responsible for sexuality, a gay man’s brain was more anatomically similar to a woman’s brain than to a man’s brain.

In Klein’s words, “according to LeVay, the preoptic area was smaller than that of the average man and the connections between the two cerebral hemispheres were more developed. But this by no means means that male homosexuals have female brains, as some people tend to claim. The inequalities identified by the tests were practically limited to the regions that determine sexual desire. As for brain volume, no differences were observed between homosexuals and heterosexuals, although the distinctions are significant when this comparison is made between men and women” (KLEIN, 2005, p. 134).

Therefore, there is a difference between the brain of a homosexual man and the brain of a heterosexual man. However, this difference is only localized (as we saw in the initial Lessons of the Course, neuroscientists prefer the hypothesis that the brain is structured in regions specialized in functions). The difference between the brain of a woman and a man (homosexual or heterosexual) is much greater, both in size and in many other regions.

According to Klein, the neuroscientist LeVay was severely criticized by movements in defense of homosexual rights. But for the reason that the findings could be interpreted as an anomaly in the brain, a defect, a kind of disease that only gay men have. Nothing further from the truth. LeVay, who by the way is an openly homosexual, managed to prove that homosexuality is natural:

“A man’s desire for another man is not a personality disorder, but a natural variation of a physiological predisposition. Just as there are right-handers and left-handers, some individuals have a different sexual inclination. Of course, this also applies to women who feel attracted to other women, although this issue, as well as many other specific aspects of the female condition, has not received due attention from researchers (KLEIN, 2005, p. 134).

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And, to conclude, see how interesting Klein’s conclusion is – very similar to Jung’s idea of ​​homosexuality:

“There are all possible gradations between homosexuality and heterosexuality. Only rarely does the brain develop an entirely male or female polarity. In most cases, the slope remains somewhere between the two extremes. In this way, no one is fully male or fully female” (KLEIN, 2005, p. 135).

Finally, I would like to point out that this is an introductory text to the subject. I would be very happy if you can complement with other neuroscience research or with comments that aim to help.

Bibliographic reference:

KLEIN, Stefan. The Happiness Formula. How recent neuroscience discoveries can help you produce positive emotions, harmony and well-being. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Sextante, 2005

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