Testosterone and Agression

Children, old people and women are all short of testosterone. Even ten years ago, testosterone was a word not often heard; nowadays the presence of testosterone in the environment is often remarked on. When the stands at the football ground are packed with vociferating fans it is described as a testosterone storm. When a driver kills another driver who cut him up at a corner, he does it in a blind testosterone rage.

Aggression is part of the currency exchanged in all masculine dealings. Male biochemistry and masculine enculturation interact to generate a threatening climate in which men, particularly young men, choose to live dangerously. Adrenaline is a drug which the violent man supplies of himself to himself. The flooding of fight-or-flight chemicals into the bloodstream is pure pleasure; many of our entertainments consist in little other than the deliberate stimulation of terror.

Television programme-maker Paul Kozminsky described some people as thinking of child abuse ‘as something bestial – out of too much testosterone’. By invoking testosterone a man can abdicate responsibility for his own behavior.

People who don’t appreciate excitement, who can see no more point in going on the big dipper than in wilding or ram-raiding, who cannot watch films which are little more than realistic representations of people being tortured, blown up, mown down, cut in half or simply terrified, are pathetic. Our culture now depicts much more elaborate violence in more media more often than it did thirty years ago.

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