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Susan Kuchinskas
I'm the author of The Chemistry of Connection: How the oxytocin response can help you find trust, intimacy and love. I'm a journalist, creative writer and artist.
Interests: Hug the Monkey tracks research in oxytocin, the hormone that lets us love and bond with others.
Recent Activity
Thanks for sharing your experience, Pancakes. As I said before, the practice in theory made sense to me when I wrote the original post. And clearly, it's been traumatic for lots of people. So, what is a possible way to bridge that attachment gap? If you have a child who, due to trauma, doesn't want to bond or be close in any way, how can you more gently encourage her to come gradually closer?
Researchers have noticed a link between Vitamin D and ASD for years. A new study explains how a lack of the vitamin could lead to problems in fetal and neonatal brain development, creating the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Rhonda... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2014 at Hug the Monkey
I'm so sorry to hear about your wife's physical challenge and the pain she had to undergo. First, I am NOT a doctor. Second, our hormonal and neurochemical states are very complex: It's not as easy as more progresterone, less oxytocin, less bonding. Finally, everyone's body has the same basic wiring and plumbing, but we are all very different. With those caveats out of the way ... My opinion, first off, is that the extreme pain and trauma of surgery that your wife suffered may have a lot more to do with any physical or emotional changes you may perceive. Neither you nor I can imagine the impact this might have on a woman. But it could make her feel more delicate and protective of her body, especially her pelvic and genital areas. Sensation may be permanently changed after such surgery, or it may take many years for discomfort and fear to fade. Medically increased progesterone can lead to emotional and personality changes in some women, aside from its effects on oxytocin. Estrogen certainly seems to enhance some of the effects of oxytocin; however, remember that bonding and intimacy in men also are governed to a great extent by oxytocin, even though they have much less estrogen than women. So it's far from the case that reduced estrogen would necessarily lead to a reduction in warmth, love, affection or sexuality. It sounds like you are a good and loving husband who truly wants to be there for his wife and to understand what she's going through. I suggest you explore some couples coaching or counseling that focuses on physical relaxation and intimacy. I have heard good things about the Human Awareness Institute (hai.org) which has classes and workshops that focus on building physical and emotional intimacy. Orgasmic Meditation (onetaste.us) is a simple practice that can help to rebuild a woman's orgasmic potential. If your wife is not interested in exploring this, you might look at ReviveHerDrive.com, which provides guidance on how a husband can gently coax his wife back into intimacy. Most important: Keep talking to her, keep being there for her, keep letting her know you love her.
Trigemina, a company focused on creating non-narcotic pain relief drugs, is enrolling patients in a Phase II clinical trial of inhaled oxytocin to treat chronic migraine. Trigemina's oxytocin product, known as T1-001 (no doubt to be renamed to something lyrical... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2013 at Hug the Monkey
We tend to think of bonding and love as deep emotions to be shared with a few. This interview about a positive psychologist reminds us that we can get an oxytocin boost almost any time by making a quick, warm... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2013 at Hug the Monkey
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A University of Missouri study found that the testosterone levels of men dropped when they interacted with the wife of a close friend. What does this mean? Testosterone is the chemical of sexual desire and aggression in both men and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2013 at Hug the Monkey
Hi, Solitaire! Aren't dogs amazing and wonderful? There seem to be people who "get" animals and people who don't. It's sad.
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Kendra Velzen received $40,000 from Grand Valley State University because her school refused to let her carry her pet guinea pig everywhere on campus. The 28-year-oldVelzen suffers from depression and uses a pacemaker. Grand Valley State let her keep her... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2013 at Hug the Monkey
Hi, Metowest, I think it makes sense. Not sure what you are asking, but thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.
Hi, Emily. I hate to tell you this, but oxytocin will not work as a pheromone. Really substantial amounts need to be inhaled to have any effect. Did you buy pure oxytocin from a laboratory supplier? Or is the powder already mixed with other things? If it's pure oxytocin, you want to mix with distilled water to make a mixture that's around 400 IU -- and then inhale it. (You may need someone who knows chemistry to help you get the proportion right.) In general, pure oxytocin degrades very rapidly when it's mixed with water. So only mix up as much as you need. If you just want to have fun with it and spray it on your skin, I would mix it with a cologne or massage oil. Again, only mix enough for one application. Who knows? It could work.
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2013 on My Oxytocin Dose at Hug the Monkey
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A thought-provoking and disturbing article by Dan Slater on TheAtlantic.com posits that online dating sites make it so easy to meet new people that committed relationships fade away. Slater, author of Love in the Age of Algorithms, uses anecdotes and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2013 at Hug the Monkey
For a couple of friends, I wanted to track down evidence that oxytocin could be useful to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia. There are some shreds, just shreds of evidence. But a single, intravenous dose of oxytocin administered by a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2013 at Hug the Monkey
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The Natural Child Project posted an excellent article explaining how childbirth and baby care can set a baby's emotional and physiological tone. Linda Folden Palmer, D.C, author of Baby Matters: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Caring for... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2012 at Hug the Monkey
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There's been plenty of research showing that when people inhale oxytocin, they tend to have more positive social behavior: trust, generosity, empathy and communication. But if taking one whiff of oxytocin can make you nicer, will taking oxytocin regularly keep... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2012 at Hug the Monkey
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No, but not all of its effects turn you into an angel of bliss. Science bloggers had a blast a few weeks ago, caviling at Paul Zak's Moral Molecule thesis, digging up an old study showing that soldiers defending their... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2012 at Hug the Monkey
John, that is so interesting -- and wonderful. I can see how this would make sense: Because the body and emotions are one thing, stimulating the body to release oxytocin could also influence the social and mood areas of the brain. I am so glad that you found this natural and healthful way to continue on your path of change. Regarding the effects fading away, I would say that it's possible that experiencing massage will help retrain your brain's oxytocin response, and you could continue to experience more emotional harmony and connection. In any case, massage is so good for us that I encourage you to keep going with it. Thank you for sharing your story. best, Susan
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Inhaled oxytocin looks very promising for relieving some of the symptoms of schizophrenia: the inability to perceive emotion in others, to respond appropriately to social cues, mistrust of others and the tendency to come to the wrong conclusions about other... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2012 at Hug the Monkey
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Is the sexualization of the breast responsible for low levels of breastfeeding? A report in Pediatrics said that breastfeeding babies for the first six months of their lives could eliminate 1,000 infant deaths a year and save billions in healthcare... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2012 at Hug the Monkey
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Science blogger and journalist Ed Yong has gotten a lot of attention the past couple of days for complaining that oxytocin isn't a love drug, after all. Yong points out that studies have shown that oxytocin is also linked to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2012 at Hug the Monkey
We're hearing a lot about the Higgs boson particle, aka the god molecule. In a new article in Sun Goddess magazine, I propose that oxytocin is the goddess molecule. Of course, oxytocin is just as important to men. But we... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2012 at Hug the Monkey
TypePad HTML Email This is a very deep and beautiful insight! I think you are exactly right. Oxytocin acts in the body to encourage relaxation and healing while counteracting stress. At the same time, it acts in the brain to encourage feelings of trust and connection. So it makes perfect sense to me that while I am receiving caring touch, I’m also experiencing the other persons emotional state. And, the oxytocin response seems to be a positive feedback loop: If I feel trust, I release more oxytocin, which causes my oxytocin receptors to be more sensitive.BTW, I cant find the reference, and maybe this hasnt been published, but Paul Zak, the researcher who pioneered human oxytocin studies, told me that when they tested people giving and receiving chair massage, the people giving massage had higher oxytocin levels than those receiving. So that gives more credence to your positive energy/oxytocin response theory.
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A study found that women who identified as feminists were more likely to support attachment parenting principles. This is a bit counterintuitive and very reassuring. As we learn more about how the oxytocin response -- the ability to connect, trust... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2012 at Hug the Monkey
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Need an oxytocin rush? Let Elvis Presley get those juices flowing. Williams Syndrome is a genetic disorder characterized by medical problems and developmental disabilities, on the downside, as well as striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities and an affinity for... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2012 at Hug the Monkey
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Time's controversial article on attachment parenting sparked a backlash: It is impossible for most parents to achieve the ideal of close to 24-hour-a-day physical connection to their baby. That doesn't negate the value of learning to mother and father in... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2012 at Hug the Monkey
A paper to be presented at the 2012 international Society for Autism Research used fMRI to find that a single dose of inhaled oxytocin increased activity in areas of the brain that process social activity. The researchers' conclusion: These results... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2012 at Hug the Monkey