One of the things I love about WordPress is the community. I have met some pretty awesome people here. People with compassion and empathy. People who support one another. People who understand the importance of connection and nurture those connections. These attributes are not only prosocial but have something in common. Oxytocin; a hypothalamic hormone stored in the posterior pituitary. It’s also a neurotransmitter.
Oxytocin can enhance health, well being, longevity, bond families, and ultimately unite humanity. When we don’t encourage the release of this hormone-neurotransmitter, we become dysfunctional. Not only on an individual basis but also within families, within communities, within nations and the world. It’s so simple, yet we make it complicated. We’ve also devalued care-giving, and have paid the price.
I’m not a religious person, nor do I subscribe to any religious belief system. However, in my opinion, Jesus, Buddha, and other teachers like them, were conveying a message that encourages the release of oxytocin, and curtails an overproduction of another hormone-neurotransmitter, dopamine. Dopamine is necessary for survival, and motivates us, but too much can make us self-centered, domineering, greedy, self-indulgent and less empathic.
It can also become addictive — alcohol, nicotine, drugs, gambling, sex, and food addictions are all addictions to dopamine. Ever heard of the saying “The devil made me do it?” The ‘devil’ is symbolic for dopamine. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (I Peter 5:8)
Oxytocin evokes feelings of contentment, calmness, trust and security while reducing anxiety and decreasing fear. Animal studies show oxytocin inhibits the development of tolerance to various addictive drugs, (opiates, cocaine, alcohol, etc.) and reduces withdrawal symptoms. In other studies, empathy increased in healthy men after intranasal oxytocin was administered.
Oxytocin is the bonding hormone. It’s the cuddle hormone. It’s the love hormone. It curtails depression. It enhances the immune system. When we encourage behavior that releases oxytocin, it not only benefits others, it benefits ourselves. It’s a win, win. I produced this simple 5 minute video, today, to further elaborate. Thanks for reading and for watching. ♥
Image (chemical structure of oxytocin) from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oxytocin_color.svg