Expert Author Beverly Keyes Taylor
Recently graduated from the same high school, Lee and Ed have been friends since the beginning of the 9th grade. They both seek summer employment together. They find out their high school offers some students who qualify summer janitorial jobs. Both boys qualify and get hired.
As they work, their boss Dave, on a routine basis, confronts them telling them they've done their assigned tasks incorrectly. They feel confused and ask for him to describe what needs to be done differently to complete the job correctly. But Dave answers brusquely with, "Just do it right." never clearly explaining what needs to be done differently.
Lee and Ed feel upset. They'd like some instruction and feel that Dave should give them more explanation. Over several weeks' time, this scenario repeatedly plays out the same way. Lee and Ed are debating about whether to talk with Dave's supervisor or simply quit.
The one main thing Lee and Ed are unaware of is that Dave's wife has just had a stroke. Now Dave must work and be away from his wife. Feeling stressed about being away from his wife and without sufficient funds to hire a nurse to care for her, Dave is taking his frustration and concern for his wife's well-being out on the boys. Here's the brain chemistry of the scenario.
1. Hidden Factors About Dave is taking care of his wife who is recovering from a stroke. That means he's using up his stores of oxytocin and depleting his testosterone. Additionally, he's feeling unsuccessful at fixing his wife's situation and inefficient at caring for his wife. These unsuccessful and inefficiency feelings cause him to deplete his testosterone. Insufficient testosterone causes grumpiness in men.
Oxytocin is the hormone of love and bonding. When Dave does a caregiving activity, his brain supplies oxytocin to do it. However, in men, excess oxytocin created in the brain depletes testosterone. Along with the neurotransmitter serotonin which causes a man to feel calm, oxytocin is relatively plentiful in men. Dave's serotonin levels may also be taking a hit because he feels upset about being away from his recovering wife. While men typically have enough serotonin, it may be depleted in times of very high stress.
When Lee and Ed asked Dave for further clarification on how to accurately complete their assigned janitorial tasks, Dave might have thought the boys were questioning Dave's authority. Dave might have also interpreted the boys' clarification questions as acting unappreciative of Dave's time. Questioning authority and acting unappreciative to a man is an affront to testosterone and further depletes it.
At home, taking care of his recovering wife, Dave is doing love and bonding activities. Love and bonding requires him to use his hormonal oxytocin levels. When men do excessive oxytocin activities, this lowers their testosterone. So, Dave excessively depleting his testosterone levels causes a brain chemistry imbalance for him.
Finally, Dave's dopamine levels may also be depleted. When a man has sufficient dopamine levels he can focus, has energy and acts motivated. Dave's brusque dismissal to the boys for further explanation of how they could do their work right may indicate low motivation to do a job well. After all, he has a much more serious problem at home. Sufficient testosterone levels are present when a man feels confident about what he's doing.