Friday, July 9, 2010
Homage to Oxytocin
Go Oxytocin, the hormone that makes you warm, feel connected... the master social juice.
Here are some interesting factoids about the big O. They are interesting to me because they SCREAM how wired we are for connection. Physical connection.
When an infant suckles at the breast of its mother, Oxytocin production is triggered, which further stimulates milk release. Overtime this stimulation is conditioned so that just by seeing her baby, a mother’s milk lets down.
Ewes that are injected with Oxytocin will actually develop maternal bonds with lambs that are not their own. But if they are given treatment to block their oxytocin during birthing, they won’t develop instincts to their natural born offspring.
Oxytocin overrides fear. If rats are injected with oxytocin, they are able to override their natural instincts to avoid “stranger” rats. Injected female rats will immediately begin maternal practices even if they are not pregnant. They’ll adopt and nurture other young rats, lay down as if preparing for nursing, and protect their “adopted rats” from others.
Oxytocin creates a sense of calm and social harmony. For example, Apes spend 10% of their waking hours picking at one another’s fur. This is not for just hygiene, but rather, the rhythmic touching involved in apes’ grooming behavior stimulates the release of oxytocin, keeping relations among the group calm and cohesive.
Oxytocin reduces pain (like when your mommy kisses your boo-boo), relieves stress (like when your partner holds your hand through a difficult experience), and diminishes distractability (like when your coach grabs your shoulder).
When making love, the ultimate social connection, orgasm releases a flood of oxytocin in the bloodstream -which is why naps are so great after sex. Blood pressure goes down and levels of stress hormones. Performed regularly with the same person, this creates a bond between individuals - often resulting in a feeling we call “love.” This bond can temporarily misguide our attachments to potentially the wrong mate.
Oxytocin creates “warmth” in our bodies. When breastfeeding the baby shows increased blood flow to hands and feet. This also happens with adults as we smootch or whatever - we feel heat in our cheeks and warm chests.
So go out and touch someone.
Source: Loneliness by John Cacioppo and William Patrick