Excerpted from “Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget”
Lost in Translation
Ch. 4 pgs. 80-81
Perhaps our difficulties in successfully talking to one another have to do with inaccuracies in the way we analyze the information we’re given.
My patient Sarah described to me a conversation she’d had with her husband, Bill, as they were filling out an application together for a special gifted program for their son. In order to illustrate one of Liam’s finer qualities. Sarah launched into an anecdote. Bill cut her off, wanting “to get to the point,” which for him was how they could describe that quality in a sentence that would satisfy the application requirements. The interruption hurt Sarah’s feelings, which irritated Bill. Needless to say, the application didn’t get finished that night.
What we have here is pretty much a textbook. Sarah answered a question with a story; Bill simply wanted to draw the shortest line between points A and B. their inability to communicate properly left them each with hurt feelings and compromised their effectiveness as a team in completing the application.
It’s humiliating to be interrupted, and there’s really no excuse for it, no matter how pressing the deadline or how inappropriate the digression. That’s something Bill is going to want to correct in the future. But when I did a little digging, I discovered that the interruption wasn’t really what was bothering Sarah. It was her interruption of what lay behind it. “Liam is his son too, “ she said. “What’s more interesting and important to him than talking about our child?”
In my opinion, Sarah simply drew the wrong conclusion from the data. She thought Bill’s disinterest Bill’s disinterest in her anecdote betrayed a lack of interest in Liam. I’m not so convinced. In fact, I think Bill might have been acting in what he perceived to be Liam’s best interests, by trying to finish the application. Rude? Yes. Disinterested? Probably not. But given Sarah’s “translation” of Bill’s behavior, of course, she felt threatened and hurt!
Legato, M.J. (2005). Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget. Rodale Press
Marianne J. Legato, MD, Ph. D. (hon. c.), FACP is an internationally renowned academic, physician, author, lecturer, and pioneer in the field of gender-specific medicine. She is a Professor Emerita of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School. Dr. Legato is also the Director of the Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine, which she founded in 2006 as a continuation of her work with The Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University. She received an honorary PhD from the University of Panama in 2015 for her work on the differences between men and women.
At its core, gender-specific medicine is the science of how normal human biology differs between men and women and how the diagnosis and treatment of disease differs as a function of gender. Dr. Legato’s discoveries and those of her colleagues have led to a personalization of medicine that assists doctors worldwide in understanding the difference in normal function of men and women and in their sex-specific experiences of the same diseases.
She began her work in gender-specific medicine by authoring the first book on women and heart disease, The Female Heart: The Truth About Women and Coronary Artery Disease, which won the Blakeslee Award of the American Heart Association in 1992. Because of this research, the cardiovascular community began to include women in clinical trials affirming the fact that the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment of the same disease can be significantly different between the sexes. Convinced that the sex-specific differences in coronary artery disease were not unique, Dr. Legato began a wide-ranging survey of all medical specialties and in 2004, published the first textbook on gender-specific medicine, The Principles of Gender-Specific Medicine. The second edition appeared in 2010 and the third edition, dedicated to explaining how gender impacts biomedical investigation in the genomic era, won the PROSE Award in Clinical Medicine from the Association of American Publishers in 2018. A fourth edition is forthcoming.
She also founded the first scientific journals publishing new studies in the field, The Journal of Gender-Specific Medicine, and a newer version, Gender Medicine, both listed in the Index Medicus of the National Library of Medicine. She has founded a third peer-reviewed, open access journal, Gender and the Genome, which focuses on the impact of biological sex on technology and its effects on human life.
Dr. Legato is the author of multiple works, including: What Women Need to Know (Simon & Schuster, 1997), Eve’s Rib (Harmony Books, 2002), Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget (Rodale, 2005), Why Men Die First (Palgrave, 2008), The International Society for Gender Medicine: History and Highlights (Academic Press, 2017), and most recently, The Plasticity of Sex (Academic Press, 2020). Her books have been translated into 28 languages to date.
As an internationally respected authority on gender medicine, Dr. Legato has chaired symposia and made keynote addresses to world congresses in gender-specific medicine in Berlin, Israel, Italy, Japan, Panama, South Korea, Stockholm, and Vienna. In collaboration with the Menarini Foundation, she is co-chairing a symposium on epigenetics, Sex, Gender and Epigenetics: From Molecule to Bedside, to be held in Spring 2021 in Italy. She maintains one of the only gender-specific private practice in New York City, and she has earned recognition as one of the “Top Doctors in New York.”