Feminist Philosophers

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punding May 24, 2010

Filed under: gender,medicine,science,Uncategorized — jj @ 3:31 am

“Punding” refers to repetitive,  purposeless, stereotypical  behavior typically induced by prolonged use of amphetamines or cocaine or by some drug therapies for, for example, Parkinson’s.  It seems to me to provide a good example of gendered behavior that can look purely biochemical but which also, the slightest reflection shows, has a large social component that can’t plausibly be thought to be innate.   Here’s a description from Molecular Psychiatry (2010) 15, 560–573; doi:10.1038/mp.2009.95:

Punding is a stereotyped behavior characterized by an intense fascination with a complex, excessive, nongoal oriented, repetitive activity. Men tend to repetitively tinker with technical equipment such as radio sets, clocks, watches and car engines, the parts of which may be analyzed, arranged, sorted and cataloged but rarely put back together. Women, in contrast, incessantly sort through their handbags, tidy continuously, brush their hair or polish their nails. Punders are normally aware of the inapposite and obtuse nature of the behavior; however, despite the consequent self-injury, they do not stop such behavior. The most common causes of punding are dopaminergic replacement therapy in patients affected by Parkinson’s disease (PD) and cocaine and amphetamine use in addicts.

Do note the use of “tend to.”  I haven’t read any descriptions of men polishing their nails or sorting through handbags, but sometimes women will get caught up in more masculine-stereotypical tasks.

I really don’t know how the stereotypical behavior ends up being differentiated by genders.  I’d guess the medication impacts some reward mechanisms, and I  wonder if  this indicates how deeply we are affected by participating in fairly trivial gendered behavior.   If you know more or can make more of it, please let us know!  As it is, I do just mean to present it as an example of  quite specific gendered behavior that isn’t plausibly regarded as innate but which can be  set  of by medication.

 

2 Responses to “punding”

  1. [...] Punding: “Punding” refers to repetitive, purposeless, stereotypical behavior typically induced by prolonged use of amphetamines or cocaine or by some drug therapies… a good example of gendered behavior that can look purely biochemical but which also, the slightest reflection shows, has a large social component that can’t plausibly be thought to be innate. [...]

  2. Xena Says:

    This is interesting. People in my ghetto used to refer to these behaviours as “the junkie shuffle”. I’d love to offer up some lay hypothesizing/inner city subculture commentary on the subject, but the link to the journal isn’t working for me right now.

    Are the researchers taking this in the same direction as cross cultural psychiatry findings that suggest that symptoms of various disorders tend to present in ways that are culture-bound: eg., windigo beliefs and schizophrenia in traditional Ojibwe societies, or hypotheses of ADD as a product of overstimulation of our kids at the hands of contemporary gadgetocracies?


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