Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Compassionate Love

Photo: People at oxytocin party taking tablets of the love and trust hormone oxytocin. http://blip.tv/file/1624462/.

Whereas passionate love is fueled by low levels of "feel good" chemicals like serotonin and high levels of "reward" hormones like dopamine, the calm bonding effects of compassionate love are in part due to increased levels of serotonin, vasopressin and oxytocin. This package of chemicals is associated with increases in well-being, calmness, self-confidence and willingness to trust others.

The prime function of the neurotransmitter vasopressin is to regulate the body's retention of water, but vasopressin also has been found to increase pair-bonding. It makes males become more aggressive towards other males and more protective of their mates. It also has proven to have positive effects on memory.

Originally known to stimulate labor and milk ejection, oxytocin has been found to increase pain thresholds and decrease the anxiety we feel toward strangers. It has also been shown to improve the symptoms of asperger's syndrome and autism.

Oxytocin suppresses the activity in the part of the brain that processes fear. It is responsible for spontaneous erections and is released during female and male orgasms, during touch, and during the ingestion of food.

Oxytocin continually increases in popularity. You can now buy oxytocin sprays online. Though it hasn’t been proven scientifically, oxytocin sprays are advertized as trust sprays. Give your client, customer or sex buddy a few sprays of oxytocin in their nostrils, and they will trust you like the patient trusts his surgeon.

In Manhattan oxytocin parties are now all the rage. Oxytocin makes us warm and fussy inside. It creates smiles that stick to our faces like barnacles. Ideal for your uptown cocktail party.

Chemically, passionate love and compassionate love have contrary physiological profiles. Compassionate love is similar in its physiological profile to states of sleepiness and nutritional fulfillment.

Passionate love, on the other hand, is physiologically akin to obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and stressful body states such as hunger. Chemically speaking, it’s no wonder that passionate love, unlike compassionate love, involves intrusive, obsessive thoughts about the object of affection.

However, while being in love may make you high, being high does not make you fall in love. Spraying your long-term partner’s big nostrils with condensed oxytocin while he is sleeping may make him trust you, but dumping the content of fifteen bottles of oxytocin in your new hottie's chocolate martini won’t make him fancy you (it's a bit like filling his coffee maker with decaf for three weeks and then switching to espresso).

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