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September 2010
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November 2010

Psychopaths: Made by Mommy?

If you are still wondering whether mothering is important, read this. It's not actually the mothering that harms, but the lack of it:

In one of her studies, Dr. Gao found that children who lived apart from their parents in the first three years of life were more likely to have psychopathic personalities. This suggests that failure to bond may play a role, she says. She also found that adults who reported they were neglected by their mothers when they were children were also more likely to have difficulty with empathy, and other psychopathic traits.

UK test for oxytocin and social anxiety disorder showed positive results. Want to get in on the study?
The test subjects were given a nasal spray containing oxytocin to see how it altered their reactions to images of fearful, angry, or happy faces, and it was found they suffered from less stress than those who did not take it.

If you have a social phobia and want to take part in research, call Becci on (01223) 768503 or email [email protected].

Read the article:

Vampires, Angels and Oxytocin

I woke up thinking about Glory, Devin O'Branagan's book in the vampire genre.I realized that there's an oxytocin story here.

O'Branagan creates a world with an even more complex set of races than Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series.

 Twilight's Bella has to choose between Jacob the werewolf and Edward the vampire -- and that's no decision at all. As she tells Jacob in the firs tmovie, "Don't make me choose, because it will always be him."

In Glory, Glory, the heroine, finds out that there are all sorts of races living with humans, sometimes helping, sometimes fighting, sometimes ignoring them. Glory is torn between two romantic interests, Zane, a vampire, and Dominic, an angel. She's deeply moved by and attracted to both of them in different ways.

(For more about the psychology of vampire love, read Fangs, Blood and Romance -- Oh My!)

Glory has an intense attraction to each of them. With Zane, it's  blood-boiling lust. When he touches her or kisses her, her whole body ignites. With Dominic, she seems to sink into a blissful sense of union with , feeling deeply connected.

That sounds like testosterone vs oxytocin to me. Vampire Zane, who is also a cowboy, incites testosterone-fueled lust, while angelic Dominic evokes the release of calmly connecting oxytocin.

While Twilight's Jacob is very sweet and Edward is super-sexy, I can also see the oxytocin/testosterone contrast in them. Especially in the movies, Jacob has the superb muscles of a high-testosterone, alpha male. Edward, on the other hand, exhibits more oxytocin traits: He is sweet to Bella, is part of a family and community that is close and bonded, and he advocates for peace among all beings. (He's also more "pretty," especially when he sparkles.)

So, it's very clear why, for Bella, "It will always be Edward." And it's clear to me whom Glory should choose.

Nature seems to have intended that hot lust to get us over our fear of strangers and cause us to have lots of sex. But that sex is supposed to release oxytocin, which creates a deep and long-lasting bond -- long-lasting enough to keep us together when lust inevitably fades.

Glory should choose Domenic. I'd bet that in the final installment of the Glory saga, Zane will sacrifice himself to save Glory. Is there a future for human Glory and angelic Dominic? Who knows?


Dose Soldiers with Oxytocin?

Don't blame me, I didn't make up this inflammatory angle.

It's the work of David Gutierrez of

A recent study seemed to show that oxytocin increases the sense of solidarity in a military unit, which would make soldiers more ready to defend each other.

According to The Telegraph,

"Our study shows that oxytocin not only plays a role in modulating cooperation and benevolence, but also in driving aggression," said researcher Carsten De Dreu of the University of Amsterdam.

Prior research has shown that oxytocin, also known as the "love hormone," contributes to protectionist behavior, especially in mammalian mothers. De Dreu and colleagues wanted to explore whether the hormone might also play a role in making men more aggressive toward outsiders. De Dreu calls the pairing of in-group solidarity and out-group aggression "parochial altruism," or the "tend and defend" response.

If I love you more, I will be more likely to hate anyone who hurts you. Makes sense.

Still, it's unlikely that the military will have soldiers whiffing oxytocin any time soon. I think amphetamines are working just fine for them.