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March 8, 1995

Raging Hormones: Do They Rule Our Lives?

Author Affiliations

Cornell University Medical College New York, NY


by Gail Vines, 184 pp, $25, ISBN 0-520-08776-3, paper $13, ISBN 0-520-08777-1, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1993.

JAMA. 1995;273(10):821. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520340077041

In Raging Hormones Gail Vines, a science journalist living in Cambridge, England, presents with lively polemical zeal the issue of whether hormones are in charge of our lives.

She lashes out at the medical "establishment" for an imputed belief in biological determinism, which she sees as ascribing to sex hormones the major (or the only) role in dictating human behavior.

It is always easy to disparage an opponent (in this case, the medical profession/establishment/investigators/ endocrinologists) by attacking the extremist views of one faction. On the question of hormones, however, medicine does not speak with one voice. And biological determinism has not been in fashion in medicine ever since the epidemiologists and other investigators began to consider the multifactoriality of human health, illness, and behavior.

With rare exceptions, few physicians believe that estrogens, androgens, and other chemical messengers predetermine our lives. Genetic and prenatal influences, subsequent experiences and the psychosocial environment,

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