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March 2012
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Life Experience Critical for the Oxytocin Response

As we move toward Mother's Day, science gave us another reminder of how important mothering is -- mothering as the actions of caring for a child no matter what your biological relationship.

Research led by Michael Poulin of the University of Buffalo looked at genes for oxytocin and vasopressin receptors that have been linked to kindness and generosity. They tested subjects to see if they had these genes, and they also asked them about whether they saw the world as threatening or not, and people as good or bad.

Simply having those kindness genes wasn't as important as life experiences that shaped the person's worldview. According to WebMD:

So although DNA may influence behavior, people do not come pre-programmed to be kind or mean or altruistic or selfish, says lead researcher Michael Poulin, PhD, of the University at Buffalo.

"We are not just puppets of our genes," Poulin tells WebMD. "Genes influence niceness in combination with perceptions of social threat, which come from our past and present experiences."

What Is Oxytocin Factor?

People always ask me, "Where can I get some oxytocin?" I always tell them to generate their own. A new product on the market actually contains oxytocin.

Moreover, I have a lot of respect for Bryan Post, the person who developed the product and acts as neutriceutical director for ABC Neutriceuticals.

Bryan Post is a psychologist who does ground-breaking work with families of kids who have severe behavior problems, mostly as the result of early trauma from adoption or spending time in the foster system.

His approach takes into account the dynamics of the whole family, recognizing that a parent's anger or inability to connect can further traumatize the child. Post was himself an adopted and disruptive child. At the Post Institute for Family-Centered Therapy and in workshops around the country, he helps parents learn to provide the brain-shaping experiences their children missed.

I talked to Bryan about how he developed the product, what's in it, how stable it is, whether it's really legal to sell, and why he thinks it's safe. These are all questions you should ask about any supplement or product.

I'm not ready to endorse this product, but if you decide to buy it, here is my affiliate link:

I'm afraid my voice in this is a bit warbly (thanks, Skype!) but Bryan's is clear.

Bryan Post 3-23-12ED

Revolt Brewing Over Pets in Dorms?

539325280_ba106b6568_mI was miserably lonely in college and sneaked a puppy into my dorm the spring of sophomore year. (That dog stayed with me until she died 14 years later.) So I can relate to Kendra Velzen, who is suing her college for telling her to get rid of her guinea pig.*

According to Courthouse News Service,

   "The presence of an emotional support animal provides Ms. Velzen with continued emotional support and attachment (thereby reducing symptoms of depression), physiological benefits (such as decreased heart rate), and psychological benefits (such as increased Oxytocin levels, which directly impact the sense of life satisfaction)," the complaint states.
     Velzen says the college allows physically impaired students to keep service dogs and nonpredatory fish in their dorm rooms.

This is the second such case to be in the news this year. See also, Dogs in Dorms an Antidote to Stress?

For some of us, pets can provide a substitute source of connection and oxytocin. For other people (like me) a pet can be the first living being we really connect with. It can be downright cruel to prohibit them at school.

*PS My first furry pets were guinea pigs -- my parents wouldn't let me have a dog.

PPS Guinea pigs are adorable and make great pets; some people eat them.

PHOTO: joffreylacoeur