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

50 Ways to Reduce Anxiety

By Alice Boyes Ph.D. on March 03, 2015 in In Practice
Mega list of strategies for dealing with anxiety.

Your Inner Monkey: Learning From Your Way-Way-Back Past

How far back do you look when you want to learn from the past? Your monkey ancestors actually can teach you much about why you do what you do now.

Together/Apart in Irrelationship

When acting as Performer or Audience, the long-term need to be in healthy supportive relationships is sacrificed to the immediate imperative of smothering our deep-seated discomfort, thus putting us radically out of balance with others and ourselves. We can live like this for awhile. But at some point, the debt will come due, and must be paid back—with interest.

One Simple Mood-Boosting Trick

Harnessing the mind-body connection can instantly change your mood. Here's how in 5 simple steps.

True Love vs. False Love

By Mark Banschick M.D. on February 11, 2015 in The Intelligent Divorce
Falling in love is great. But loving a real person is better.

When Love Brings Pain - #1

Your brain seeks the good feeling of letting down your guard. But the slightest threat puts your brain on alert. If you learn to manage these alerts, you can have lasting love.

How to Use All 5 Senses to Beat Stress

By Vinita Mehta Ph.D., Ed.M. on February 04, 2015 in Head Games
With the hassles of everyday life, it's easy for a bad day to take a downward spiral. Studies show that you can feel better by engaging the five senses. Here are five research-backed ways to de-stress and connect more deeply to your senses.

Testosterone v Oxytocin: Bridging the Gene-Behaviour Gap

Testosterone and oxytocin express the diametric opposition of genes that determine both mental illness and normality via their effects on the brain, mind, and behaviour.

10 Ways to Relieve Stress in 5 Minutes or Less

The way we work is broken when scores of talented people can’t attend to their basic human needs. Until the larger systemic issues are fixed, these and other stories continue to push me to create stress-relief strategies that can actually be incorporated in your super-hectic day. Here are 10 such strategies to try when you have 5 minutes or less.

What If Your Therapist Had A Dog In The Office?

A Chow Chow named Jo-Fi attended therapy sessions by Sigmund Freud: should today’s therapists have a canine assistant? How do clients feel about the dog in therapy sessions?

You Have the Right to Feel Good Now, With or Without "Them"

It often seems like "they" are standing in the way of your happiness. But if you conquered “them,” you wouldn't be as happy as you imagine. Your happy brain chemicals are hard to make sense of, but when you understand them you have all the power you need in the world.

Healing the Shame of Childhood Abuse Through Self-Compassion

Shame can be the most damaging effect of child abuse--compassion is its anecdote.

Does Technology "Crack" You Up? Maybe.

By Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A. on January 07, 2015 in Just Listen
The thrill of an adrenaline rush is only exceeded by the dread of an adrenaline crash.

Why You Need to Feed Your Hunger for Contact

Scientists prove what humans knew all along, hugs heal.

If Orgasms and Love Elude You, Blame Commitment and Oxytocin

By Rita Watson MPH on January 07, 2015 in With Love and Gratitude
When one's social life consists of hook-ups, sexual pleasure is often fleeting and disappointing.

In the Human Brain, Dogs and Children Are Equally Lovable

MRI data explores how human mothers respond to their own children and to their family dog. The similarities are remarkable.

Managing Your Emotions

There are times when we are in difficult encounters with others and we cannot physically leave the situation. We need to manage our emotions and remain centered in order to be our best selves. Having a regular practice we can call on in these times of need can serve us well, but we need to develop the practice so it.

Why We Love Sad Songs

Happy music can elevate our mood and share our joy. So why would we risk losing our good mood by listening to sad music?

Tinder, Accessibility and Geo-Locating Love

From the irrelationship perspective, showing up for love with an open heart and mind—giving ourselves and each other a chance to set ourselves aflame one swipe at a time—might very well be among the most essential strategies for pulling a fast one on the psychological defenses that we use to keep ourselves distant from those who threaten our hearts with real relationship.

Can Hugs Slow Aging?

The simple lesson here is that rather than attaching yourself to an unwilling teenager for blood rejuvenation it might be easier, and far more enjoyable, to just give and accept hugs freely and often.

Fear of Flying's Common Core

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on December 28, 2014 in Conquer Fear Of Flying
Why is the cure of flight phobia like peanut butter? If you have a jar of peanut butter, you can spread it on as many crackers as you like. If you have a supply of genetically based calming, you can spread it on as many anxiety-producing situations as you can come up with, in flight, or elsewhere.

Why Synchronize and Bond With Your Children

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on December 15, 2014 in Moral Landscapes
The development of healthy synchronic bonds is the cornerstone of adaptive social life, and it starts in infancy.

Kindness in Kids and The Nature-Nurture Debate

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on December 14, 2014 in Moral Landscapes
Lucy wants Charlie's toy. He gives it to her, happily. Is his kindness nature or nurture?

The Psychology of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

By David J Ley Ph.D. on December 14, 2014 in Women Who Stray
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the fastest growing and most popular martial art of recent years. Beyond its effectiveness in MMA, BJJ inspires powerful dedication and commitment in its students. BJJ taps into many powerful aspects of human psychology, inspiring devotion and promoting personal growth in its students.

Why Does Having a Positive Attitude Keep You Healthier?

By Christopher Bergland on December 13, 2014 in The Athlete's Way
For the first time, a December 2014 study has found that laughing gas (nitrous oxide) shows promise for helping symptoms of treatment-resistant depression.

Calling Facebook, Google et al: Technology's Real Purpose

By Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A. on December 07, 2014 in Just Listen
Calling facebook, Google et al... Your real purpose and promise is not to feed rampant transactionalism, but to connect everyone in a transparent way enabling them to transcend their current transactional myopia and transform the world into a place where all peoples, all of nature and the earth itself will live and prosper together.

Ten Ways to Stay Positive During the Holidays

It's easy to feel judged and annoyed during the holidays. When you know how your brain creates those feelings, you can replace them with feelings you'd rather have. It's hard at first, but you build new neural pathways that make it easy to go positive instead of going negative.

Minimize Fear - Maximize Trust

By Judith E Glaser on December 01, 2014 in Conversational Intelligence
When fear dominates, the primitive brain takes over, releasing cortisol and catecholamines—hormones released during emotional or physical stress. These chemicals shut down the brain’s prefrontal cortex, or executive functions, which enable sophisticated strategies, trust, integrity, and strategic thinking.

Bonding (Physically) With Same-Sex Individuals

By Jesse Marczyk on November 30, 2014 in Pop Psych
A new papers suggests that homoerotic behavior functions to bond same-sex friends closer together. I remain skeptical.

The Highs of Elevation

By Richard Smith Ph.D. on November 25, 2014 in Joy and Pain
Witnessing a good person doing a good thing can give us chills -- and it is a good thing that it can.