Monday, 15 September 2014

Oxytocin: The love hormone

You may have heard lots on TV and in magazine articles lately about Oxytocin, the love chemical in the brain. Dr. Oz on Oprah, Dr. John Gray in his latest book on relationship between Mars and Venus, The Doctors on TV, are all mentioning it.

This feel-good chemical, generated in both the brain and the heart, induces empathy, bonding and intimacy. Women generate lots of Oxytocin.  Since, like all other mental functions in the female it is associated with verbal activities, it gives rise in women to what scientists are now calling the ‘Tend and befriend’ instinct.  Women generate Oxytocin in conversations, when experiencing closeness to their children and even when receiving a hug from their partner. 

The male brain and heart also generate Oxytocin, although in lower levels than in the female. It is important to note that Oxytocin levels spike in both men and women at the time of sexual activities, particularly orgasm.  Not only does it make us feel close and loving, it also releases stress in the body and the brain.

The old idea is true that women need intimacy (Oxytocin generated in their brains and bodies) in order to want to have sex, while men need sex in order to feel intimacy.

Hint: Men should give hugs and affection, listen for at least a few minutes each day to their partners and they will help her generate the feelings of intimacy and desire for sex. Women should understand that men need sex in order to generate all the feelings we take for granted.

Relationships are in need of constant work and commitment, sometimes a little outside help can go a long way.

Monday, 8 September 2014

How women and men really think and feel

Only in the last five years Magnetic Resonance Images (MRIs) have isolated the differences between the way male and female brains actually work.

You’d be surprised how different we actually are.

Neuroscience can finally put paid to some of our myths about each other, and we can finally usher in a stage of new learning about how to better communicate and work with each other.

One of the first myths is that men are left-brained and women are right-brained. While men do have a left-brained bias, women have a larger corpus collosum (the web of nerves that connect the two hemispheres of the brain) and many thousands more neurons that connect all the parts of the highly complex female brain, making the average woman truly both-brained. And a female has 6-7 centres for speech throughout the brain, whereas men have 1 or 2 only in the left hemisphere.  What this means is that women can process thoughts and feelings all at once and can use words to both track the process and describe it.
That should come as no surprise to their partners or male work colleagues who find it difficult to listen to women talk through their processes! 

The second, and related, myth is that men are the thinkers and women are the feelers. The fact is that men feel a lot, but just don’t always have words to describe their feelings and take longer to truly process an emotional issue. Women on the other hand initially bundle their feelings, thoughts and words, and need more time to separate them out, formulate comprehensive ideas and communicate them logically. While the male brain looks for expedient and strategic deductions, the female brain includes greater detail, more depth and breadth to her conclusions. Both perspectives are necessary to any complex decision-making process, both at home and at work.

No wonder we were designed to fit together!

I’ll be exploring more of these differences in up-coming blogs.