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March 2006
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May 2006

RAndom Moments of Connection

My neighbor founded the Web of Love, inciting people to consciously experience connection to others -- and ultimately to everyone on the planet. He talks about experiencing each others' energy and connecting heart-to-heart. Another way to say think of the exercises he suggests is that they put participants in physical proximity with an intention of trust, promoting the release of oxytocin.

To me, this does not negate in any way the feelings of love and connection participants in Circles of Love feel. We are our bodies, and the only "true" emotions begin in our bodies. Understanding the mechanisms of emotion don't lessen their power.

I got teary reading this story:

Link: The Cab Ride I'll Never Forget.

Pets Not Pills

Here's a sweet story from Janie Andrews of Keoland TV, reminding us in a direct way just how good that oxytocin gush we get from pets feels.  A cancer doctor at the Mayo Clinic tells the reporter that his dogs ease the stress of his profession, and he knows pets are good for our health in general. Andrews writes,

"... perhaps the best part about pets is explained in a greeting card quote written by a man who rescued a neglected pup. Dr. Creagan says, "I get teary eyed reading this: Many a time he pulled me away from my solitude, my greed and my anger. He covered me with kisses. Did I save him, I wondered? Or did he save me?"

Ahhh. I'm feeling a little oxytocin rush myself, right now.

Oxytocin Dosing

I've recently gotten two queries from individuals interested in experimenting with self-administered oxytocin to help with depression and social anxiety. I think as oxytocin continues to make the news every couple of weeks, we'll see more and more such experiments.

At the same time, Alcibiades, the guy who is certainly one of the top researchers when it comes to self-experimenting with hormones, reports on his blog, Alcibiades' Dream, that oxytocin spray no longer works for him.

Since late December 2005, he's been snorting various amounts and types of oxytocin, and he'd said that it gave him warm fuzzy feelings -- although not for long. For example, snorting oxytocin before calling up a woman and asking for a date made him feel confident and secure.

He writes,

Oxytocin no longer “works” for me. This could be due to my supply having degraded, as peptides are subject to do. Perhaps my oxytocin is fine and I’ve simply become tolerant to the doses able to be administered intranasally. Or, it could be that my past positive experiences under the oxytocin spell can be explained entirely by placebo.

I'm not so sure what he experienced was the placebo effect, however.  As has been reported before, pharmaceutical companies are actively engaged in developing oxytocin-based drugs for social phobias. I would guess that the decreasing effects are due to either a) the oxytocin he used losing its punch, or b) Alcibiades' body upping its production of stress chemicals in response to the oxytocin jolt.

In any case, his experiments with oxytocin and other substances are well worth reading, whether or not you want to try this at home.

Why Sex in Advertising Works

This is brilliant. Bill Davenport, executive director of the Valley Care pregnancy Centre in Nova Scotia, has made a connection that I haven't seen elsewhere, not even when I wrote about marketers using neuroscience.

I wondered if there was a reason for advertisers to use sexually stimulating images and words along with their product. I wondered if oxytocin was also released during simple arousal. If so, then the combination of sexual arousal, oxytocin and a product for sale could elevate trust in the consumer toward that product.

It's so simple, but so profound. Dabenport doesn't quote any scientific studies supporting that oxytocin is released during arousal, but it sure makes sense, because oxytocin is released in a variety of non-touch situations, and I think he's right.

Link: Oxytocin, bonding, trust and manipulation