A ‘must read’ for this week – it may take 10-15 minutes – is an article in Fast Company magazine by Adam L Penenberg who subjects himself to a number of tests relating to oxytocin (the ‘cuddle chemical’) and social networking conducted by neuroeconomist Paul Zak, who has been dubbed ‘Dr Love’. The results point to an explanation for the phenominal growth and addictive nature of social networking sites, which clearly has implications for their use in health information and condition management – Health 2.0, in other words.
“Known for years as the hormone forging the unshakable bond between mothers and their babies, oxytocin is now, thanks largely to Zak, recognized as the human stimulant of empathy, generosity, trust, and more. It is, Zak says, the “social glue” that adheres families, communities, and societies, and as such, acts as an “economic lubricant” that enables us to engage in all sorts of transactions.”
On page 3 is an indication that social networking in itself is good for your health by reducing cardiovascular risks associated with lack of social support. The author’s brain appears to have interpreted tweeting as if he were directly interacting with people he cared about or had empathy for. E-connection is processed in the brain like an in-person connection… Social Networking Affects Brains Like Falling in Love.
Donna Cusano--Editor North America
I can’t help it, but Dr. Zak does remind me a bit of the character played by Dick Shawn in the original, peerless ‘The Producers’–Lorenzo St. DuBois, otherwise known as LSD. ‘Love Power’ from The Producers
Back to the article….interpreting tweeting as real interaction and spiking oxytocin levels points to a possible problem in Mr. Penenberg’s brain! Then again, he had been snorting oxytocin previously; his levels could have been easily stimulated because of residual oxytocin. (What’s the half life of OT anyway?) Is this real empathy or merely the mock?
Is oxytocin like another stress hormone, adrenaline–too much adrenaline all the time leading to adrenal fatigue and a whole host of health problems. Is there such a thing as oxytocin fatigue?