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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
Interesting idea. Does the suggestion include any theories about what's happening in the brain?
Admission: I was a hippie (well, a semi-hippie). In the early 1970s I lived in my van, hitchhiked around and asked people on the street, "Do you have a place we can crash?" I still clearly remember a time I... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2015 at Hug the Monkey
Here is a very alarming study from Rebecca Larke, a researcher in Karen Bales' lab at UC Davis: Female prairie voles that were given fluoxetine (generic Prozac) during pregnancy gave birth to babies that had significant abnormalities in their oxytocin... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2015 at Hug the Monkey
By Lauren Penrod Why is there an entire holiday dedicated to bringing your dog to work? Because it's good for the pets and the people. Having dogs in the workplace has been shown to decrease work-related stress levels and can... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2015 at Hug the Monkey
I love all creatures, and I'm entranced by the diversity of how animals and insects look, act and reproduce. Two interesting stories popped up for me today, so I thought I'd share. First is an aquatic flatworm that can fertilize... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2015 at Hug the Monkey
There is room for this input, Mike.
Toggle Commented Jun 11, 2015 on The Mother/Baby Attachment Gap at Hug the Monkey
Mike recently shared his story in the comments on my post The Mother/Baby Attachment Gap. Physical trauma during a C-section led to emotional trauma for him and his parents that he still is dealing with. His back was injured during... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2015 at Hug the Monkey
We should not discount your story, Mike. It's very clear to me that the physical trauma to you and your mother during her C-section started a chain of further traumas and disruptions that you're still feeling. You're right to feel angry and betrayed; no one should have to go through that. I am going to respond in more detail in a new blog post.
Toggle Commented Jun 11, 2015 on The Mother/Baby Attachment Gap at Hug the Monkey
Pheromones are substances that are released by one animal into the environment that other animals take in through the nose or mouth that "communicate" by changing the physiological state of the second animal (bugs, etc). Animals have something called the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2015 at Hug the Monkey
Diet Doc, an online provider of medical weight loss programs, is offering a new program called the Emotional Eating Diet Plan. It includes inhaled oxytocin as part of the plan. I spoke to Ryan Shelton, N.D., medical director of Diet... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2014 at Hug the Monkey
I think there's a lot of merit in what you say, Hafizah. Re a wife's letting her husband suckle her breasts, there is much comfort in that for both of them. Sometimes it can be difficult for a man to allow himself to be nurtured this way, but sucking the nipples releases oxytocin in a woman and probably does in a man, as well. So it can calm him down and increase their bond. I didn't know that Muhammad said that, I think that's very cool. I also find that many religious or ancient practices turn out to have a lot of validity when considered in the light of science and/or neuroscience. thanks for the comment!
Toggle Commented Dec 21, 2014 on Oxytocin, Vasopressin and Autism at Hug the Monkey
Hello, Jane, sorry my blog has been pretty dark. I had some email conversations with the acupuncturist who treated a patient for persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD). She was unwilling to go on the record because of her concerns for her client's privacy. She did tell me that the treatment was at least partially successful and that her client was able to resume relations with her husband. One critical point, she told me, is on the perineum, definitely a tricky point for both acupuncturist and client. But if you and your therapist are willing to go there, it's definitely worth a try. Please do let me know if you try this and it works. best, Susan
The latest news about oxytocin is that it helped regenerate muscle tissue in old mice. This is not so surprising; while most of the excitement about oxytocin is around its influence as a neurochemical on our emotions and thoughts, it's... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2014 at Hug the Monkey
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 ( which has classes and workshops that focus on building physical and emotional intimacy. Orgasmic Meditation ( 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, 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
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.
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
A thought-provoking and disturbing article by Dan Slater on 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