According to Sarah Blustain’s article, “The New Gender Wars” (December 2000), evolutionary psychologists argue that men are naturally promiscuous to ensure that their genes are passed on to as many offspring as possible. Women, on the other hand, focus their energy on nurturing their children, and pursue men who are likely to “stick around” and help provide for the family. If this is the case, one would expect that males more likely to stick around (and thus more attractive to women) would have a sexual advantage over their more promiscuous brothers.

If sexual strategy is biologically determined, one would also expect that, over time, males who are inclined to be faithful would vastly outnumber males who attempt to mate with as many women as possible. It seems to me that there is a major, glaring, logical fallacy at the heart of the evolutionary psychologists’ argument.

Carol Bailey Ontario, Canada


Ellen Langer’s article on taking as a form of giving (December 2000) really hit home with me. I’ve always been a big giver in relationships (in time and emotional support). I don’t think it’s because I’m trying to buy love, but because I’m a giver by nature. On the other hand, I’ve always found it very hard to ask for anything from my partner. I was raised to feel that emotional need was a sign of neediness, one of the sorriest states to be in.

Dr. Langer’s article made me realize what a laughable position I’ve put myself in. It’s perfectly fine for me to give to another person, because I’m nurturing him. But if he were to do it for me, I’d feel like a weakling. The great thing about taking from another person isn’t just the way it empowers him, but that it cuts to the chase. If he doesn’t want to give anything, it’s pretty certain that you’re not valued by him, and so you can move on.

Arthur Rubin Asheville, North Carolina


It’s unclear to me why you would use a sexual image to illustrate the article, “The Most Dangerous Book You May Be Reading,” (December 2000), which concerns false memories of childhood sexual abuse. On the first page there is a photo of a beautiful young woman, fingers placed provocatively in her mouth, wearing a suggestive see-through top and extremely low-cut pants so that her midriff is exposed. It seems to me irresponsible to use a deliberately sexualized image to illustrate an article which is about the tragic pain and anguish felt by those experiencing false memories of sexual abuse.

Jenny Bent New York, New York


Thank you for printing the interview with Albert Ellis in your February 2000 issue. Reading about his theories has reminded me why I became a student of psychology in the first place. The article inspired me and gave me a much-needed kick to reapply to psychology doctoral programs.

Jennifer Saracco Bay Shore, New York


Has anyone ever considered that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) might be due to the terrible inconveniences caused by winter and not by light deprivation? (“Shedding Light on Moods,” December 2000.) It’s difficult (and dangerous) to drive, it’s freezing cold, and those of us who enjoy outdoor activities like biking, rollerblading and simply taking a walk are stuck inside. I hate winter and I do get terribly depressed, but I don’t think it has much to do with a lack of light.

Sandra N. Mathews, Via e-mail

Nancy Dess, Ph.D., responds: Excellent point. Both temperature and light can vary with latitude, and winter can be hard for many reasons. Not all winter blues are SAD-related, nor is SAD the same in all people. Moreover, the social isolation and inactivity resulting from depression can worsen it. No single factor explains how winter affects people, and much remains a mystery. But research does implicate light exposure as one important modulator of SAD symptoms.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group