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More on Dr. Keroack's Theories of Oxytocin

The San Diego Union Tribune has interesting background on where Eric Keroack, president Bush's appointee to handle the government's birth control programs for low-income women, got the information he uses to preach abstinence.

In  a nutshell, Dr. Keroack teaches that premarital sex can interfere with a woman's ability to bond in marriage.

Dana Wilkie of Copley News Service tracked down Rebecca Turner, a psychology professor at San Francisco's Alliant International University whose paper found its way into a treatise Keroack wrote for the Abstinence Clearinghouse. According to Wilkie, Turner found that:

When women were asked to recall memories about close relationships, whether familial or romantic, those with a tendency to be anxious about such relationships had lower oxytocin increases than those who were married, living together or dating.

Turner was shocked and dismayed to find that her research was being misrepresented, she told Wilkie.

But here's the kicker: No matter what the level of oxytocin in women who were anxious about close relationships, Turner's paper found that oxytocin activity was “completely unrelated” to the number of previous sexual partners.

Understanding that finding doesn't require a course in logic; a simple ability to read will do. Still, Keroack somehow made the leap that sex with multiple partners inhibits the brain's ability to respond to oxytocin, and therefore the ability to bond.

During a follow-up study three years later, Turner found no links between oxytocin levels and emotional conditions, but that was after Keroack's paper came out.

Just to point out how different studies may contradict each other, let me remind yothat I recently reported on a study by Donatella Marazziti and a team at the University of Pisa that found anxious lovers to have higher levels of oxytocin. You might also want to read my interview with behavioral neuroscientist Jill Schneider, who analyzes the science behind Keroack's statements.