What is Oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a powerful hormone. When we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels drive up. It also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, the hormone plays a huge role in pair bonding. Prairie voles, one of nature's most monogamous species, produce oxytocin in spades. This hormone is also greatly stimulated during sex, birth, breast feeding—the list goes on.

Recent Posts on Oxytocin

Child Rearing: Boundaries and Love

At a certain point during breastfeeding, it is natural for the baby to bite the breast. This is one of many important avenues for mother and baby to negotiate their boundaries—between self and other. All of child rearing revolves around boundaries and love.

The #BrightFriday Challenge

By Eva Ritvo M.D. on November 21, 2015 On Vitality
Did you know that Black Friday is bad for your brain? Based on neuroscience, we've got the perfect way to turn Black Friday into Bright Friday.

Love at First Sight and Life-Long Love: 20 Questions

If you want life-love long, be careful of the illusions trap.

Bliss Molecules and Love Hormones Propel Our Social Networks

Neuroscientists from the University of California, Irvine have discovered that the “love hormone” oxytocin stimulates the brain production of self-produced cannabis neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids—which are also known as the “bliss molecule." This dynamic duo enhances the pleasure of social interactions and drives our human urge for intimate relationships.

When Is the Best Time to Give Birth?

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on September 14, 2015 How We Do It
Medical intervention in human birth is now so widespread in industrialized countries that deliveries are seldom spontaneous. Yet with no intervention there is clear persistence of a general mammalian 24-hour biorhythm in birth hour. Is this just a carryover from ancestors that gave birth during their inactive period, or is that basic rhythm still biologically important?

A Pilot Fearful During Flight as a Passenger

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on September 03, 2015 Conquer Fear Of Flying
A pilot writes, "I understand all of the concepts of flying and the safety relating to it. This is not my problem. I’m afraid only when I’m a passenger. It’s the feeling of not being in control. Also, my fear fear is associated with the plane’s movements, and not knowing if a turn is coming or when it is coming."

How the "Bonding Potion” Oxytocin May Cure Anorexia Nervosa

Oxytocin is widely known as the bonding hormone for its effects on love and lust between two people in a relationship. Many studies have been performed to determine whether this love potion can aid in psychological disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and depression.Oxytocin is making a big impact in science and is currently being researched to treat eating disorders.

Unconscious Memories Hide In the Brain but Can Be Retrieved

Researchers at Northwestern University have identify a unique brain mechanism used to store and retrieve unconscious memories.

Can Oxytocin Fortify Resilience Against Childhood Adversity?

A new study from Emory University reports that manipulating the oxytocin system has the potential to fortify a person's resilience against childhood adversity, abuse, or neglect.

Cortisol and Oxytocin Hardwire Fear-Based Memories

New research shows that the "stress hormone" cortisol and the "love hormone" oxytocin can create a double whammy when it comes to hardwiring anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Arousal: Must It Mean Fear and Danger?

We can feel fear when safe. We can feel no fear when in danger. It takes more than feelings to determine whether we are safe or not. A sophisticated system hosted in the pre-frontal cortex does that.

"Love Hormone" Oxytocin Linked to Domestic Violence

Oxytocin, which leads to trust and attachment, may also lead to possessive and abusive behaviours.

How Do Various Cortisol Levels Impact Cognitive Functioning?

Having just the right amount of cortisol in your bloodstream appears to optimize childhood cognitive functioning. What is the secret to finding the sweet spot between too much cortisol or too little cortisol?

Nature’s Antidepressant: The Dog

How do dogs work their magic on our mood? Researchers believe a big part of the answer is found in the chemical oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” Dogs also affect our moods less directly, by being the catalyst of situations that help keep low spirits at bay, whether they spring from a diagnosed mood disorder or just a tough day at the office.

How Addiction Makes Strangers of Those We Love

Addiction can turn those we are closest to into people we don’t recognize – people who lie, steal, manipulate and who appear to value their drug of choice much more than they value us. As we watch in anguish as they turn their backs on all that once had meaning for them, we find ourselves asking, “Why don’t they care?”

Oxytocin — The Multitasking Love Hormone

Oxytocin is widely known because hospitals routinely use it to trigger and support birth. The hormone also triggers milk ejection during breastfeeding. But it is also involved elsewhere, including bonding. Oxytocin has significant effects on brain function as well as on the reproductive organs. But it has very ancient origins, so what was its initial function?

What is Love?

For Mother’s Day this blog will not address the pressing issues of psychiatry today. Suffice it to say that the harm done by the twin traumas of deprivation and abuse generate all the psychiatric struggles we are all subject to. This is the other side of the story - my appreciation for what I have learned from my wife.

The Ideal Dog

Having a well-mannered dog just might be easier than we thought.

Brainlock 101—How We Can't Help Becoming Stuck

You are trapped—by your own brain activity and chemistry, by developmental patterns from the past, by the way your patterns and your partner's patterns interlock with one another, and by social forces that are hard to see. Read about how this becomes "Brainlock" and cements you (in a plural sense) into a state of irrelationship.

Why We Don’t Speak Up!

Being rejected, thrown out, or having my voice suppressed has been one of the top three ‘fight back’ themes in my life. Since fear of rejection is hardwired into all of us I’ve been compelled to study, research, and experiment for three decades looking for a new approach.

Looking for Mr. Right? 16 Questions to Consider

Look at the research on matters of the heart. Answer 16 questions. And if you are describing a past love who has disappointed you, rewrite your love story, and seek out someone who values you.

Why Betrayal Hurts So Much (and Who Seeks Revenge)

A betrayal by someone you trust is one of the most challenging interpersonal situations you can face in life. Whether through infidelity or a failure to fulfill a promise, betrayal leads to a desire for revenge, particularly in some people. New neuroscience research suggests who’s most likely to be hurt by a betrayal and why.

Need a Lift? Just Look Into a Dog's Eyes.

By Mark Derr on April 22, 2015 Dog's Best Friend
Japanese researchers make a lofty claim for what staring into your dog's eyes does to you and your dog.

Did Dogs Hack the Oxytocin Love Circuit?

A paper published today in the journal Science challenges us to consider whether every study that compares wolves and dogs can shed light on domestication.

Dogs, Humans, and the Oxytocin-Mediated Strong Social Bond

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 16, 2015 Animal Emotions
A new study has shown that mutual gazing by dogs but not wolves increases oxytocin levels in humans. To demonstrate there was a causal relationship, when oxytocin was administered to a new group of dogs before they interacted with their owners, the researchers saw an increase in the extent of mutual gaze between owners and dogs and an increase in oxytocin in the humans.

7 Secrets to Hitting Your Reset Button

Dr. Michael Roizen, co-author with Dr. Oz on the best-selling YOU series, has just published a new book, “This is Your Do-Over.” The book provides 7 secrets to better physical health. Fortunately, these same secrets are the pathway to positive mental health, happiness, and well-being.

Holding a Grudge Produces Cortisol and Diminishes Oxytocin

Are you currently holding a grudge against someone? Is someone holding a grudge against you? This blog post offers scientific reasons and some basic advice on how-to let go of a grudge and move on with your life.

Addicted to Being Right!

I’ve found that even the best fighters – the proverbial smartest guys in the room – can break their addiction to being right by getting hooked on oxytocin-inducing behavior instead. Connecting and bonding with others trumps conflict. The more you learn about other peoples’ perspectives, the more likely you are to feel empathy for them.

Extreme Jealousy in Relationships

Jealousy is a social convention just like monogamy.

Using Art to 'Touch' Someone in a Juvenile Detention Center

Guest blogger and artist Elise Lunsford describes a unique and creative approach to promote reconnection and healing with a difficult client in a juvenile detention facility. In forensic settings, clinicians are warned not to touch the inmates. She demonstrates that art can allow us to reach out and touch those who therapists would otherwise hesitate to touch.