Love hormone is released during crises

When you notice your partner is less interested than you are, your brain may send out a hormone that can help you fix the relationship.

Oxytocin is often called the "love hormone" or "cuddle chemical," but American and Norwegian researchers have found out that it may as well be called a "crisis hormone."

"When people notice that their partner is showing less interest in their relationship than they are, the level of this relationship-building hormone increases," says Andreas Aarseth Kristoffersen, a research assistant in NTNU's Department of psychology.

The hormone oxytocin has long been associated with relationships in several different ways. Oxytocin has a great reputation, because it is thought that it can make us feel better by reducing anxiety and making us feel more generous. Our brain secretes it during orgasm. It also influences the relationship between mother and child.

But it's not all cuddling and love.

Two -- or more -- possibilities

"Two main theories exist. Some scientists believe that oxytocin is released primarily to enhance a relationship and make it stronger when you're with someone you love," says Aarseth Kristoffersen.

But others believe that oxytocin levels increase primarily when we find ourselves in difficult or even threatening situations. In those cases, the hormone helps us seek out new social relationships.

However it may not just be either-or.

Hormone increases in good and bad times

NTNU researchers joined researchers from the University of New Mexico to study the connection between oxytocin and investment in couple relationships.

The researchers examined 75 American couples, and 148 Norwegian individuals who were one of the partners in their relationships. Newly minted Ph.D. Nicholas M. Grebe is the study's first author and visited Professor Kennair at NTNU's Department of Psychology. Kennair has collaborated with Grebe's Ph.D. advisor Professor Steven W. Gangestad.

"Participants in the study were asked to think about their partner and how they wish their partner would connect with them in the relationship," says Trond Viggo Grøntvedt, PhD, from the Department of Psychology.

Oxytocin levels were measured both before and during the tasks. In both studies, individuals showed elevated hormone levels when they felt strong personal investment in the bond. In this case, oxytocin's reputation as a love hormone holds up.

"Yes, oxytocin relates to one's feelings of involvement -- but, this association is particularly strong when one feels more involved than their partner," says Nick Grebe.

But the crucial finding came from simultaneously examining both partners' involvement..

The partners who were more invested in a relationship released more oxytocin when they thought about their relationship than the less invested partner did. Considering both members together, it was the difference in investment between partners that predicted an increase in oxytocin. Here, oxytocin may be acting more like a "crisis hormone."

"It's seems contradictory that you would release more oxytocin both when things are going well and when they're not, but that's how it is," says Aarseth Kristoffersen.

But why would that be?

Put more effort into the relationship

"This may be because people in a relationship where their partner is waffling need to engage more," Aarseth Kristoffersen says.

"The idea behind the prediction was that oxytocin might promote attention and motivation toward the relationship when it was both important and threatened," says Professor Gangestad.

For example, the partner who is most invested in the relationship might benefit from putting even more effort into making it work, so that the more sceptical party re-engages.

"What's implied here is a statement about what oxytocin is doing: It's perhaps fostering attention to and motivation to "take care of" the relationship," says Gangestad.

Nevertheless, there is apparently -- some would say fortunately -- a limit. This would apply to relationships where everything seems lost and is clearly heading for a break-up. In those situations, the more invested partner does not show the same increase in oxytocin levels.

"There's no point in investing more in a lost cause," says Kennair.

There appears to be a limit to how long you should spend energy and resources on a relationship that is simply over.

However, this is still mostly speculation for now.

What you believe is what matters

The researchers found no significant difference between US and Norwegian results. Responses to the study tasks were consistent across cultural conditions, which reinforces the theory that the underlying explanation is biological.

The procedure in the two countries differed somewhat. The American couples were asked directly about how committed they were in their relationships. The Norwegian individuals were asked how invested they thought their partner was in the relationship. This made no difference for the results.

It is enough if you think the relationship is weakening because your partner is losing interest. This will trigger your brain to release extra oxytocin.

"I might emphasize that it isn't necessarily "bad" or "good" for a person to release oxytocin. Yes, it might motivate attention that helps to maintain a relationship, but as the article hints, that isn't necessarily desirable, though it could be! What is biologically "functional" and socially "desirable" are two different things," says Nick Grebe.

"We think that viewing oxytocin in this way can help us understand why it plays a role in other kinds of interdependent social relationships -- new romances, mother-infant bonds, as two examples. The idea is that emotionally salient relationships, especially when those relationships are vulnerable, are elicitors of the oxytocin system," Nick Grebe concludes.

Offshore Drilling Brings U.S., Cuba Together

After 53 years of embargo, U.S. energy companies looking for new offshore drilling ventures could make Cuba into another Caribbean petrostate.

Last week saw 120 people from the U.S. and Cuba gather in Havana for the Safe Seas Clean Seas Symposium, organized by Hunt Petty LLC, a Houston-based consulting firm. Highlighting ways in which the U.S. and Cuba can cooperate on spill prevention and response, the meeting also represented a first for U.S. companies since diplomatic talks resumed, reports USA Today.

“It’s the first time it’s been possible for a U.S. entity to hold a conference in Cuba,” said Lee Hunt, partner of Hunt Petty LLC and former president of the International Association of Drilling Contractors. “It’s also the first time that business persons and professionals who are American citizens could travel to Cuba for the purpose of participating in such a meeting. It’s groundbreaking in that sense,” he added.

Cuba announced plans in October to resume exploratory drilling despite the prolonged slump in oil prices and weakening demand. The state controlled Cuba-Petroleo (Cupet) aims to begin drilling by the end of 2016 or in early 2017. According to Reuters, opportunities for future U.S. exploration have fueled recent interest in Cuba’s oil sector.

Spill prevention was center at the conference, as Cuba’s drilling late next year will happen as close as 50 miles off the Florida coast. USA Today reports that Wild Well Control and Witt O’Brien, two U.S. based companies specializing in emergency response for the oil industry were in attendance eyeing future business opportunities, as was Cameron, a U.S. manufacturer of drilling equipment.

Jay Hakes, former head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration and a speaker at the symposium noted it was “remarkable” how well representatives from the two countries cooperated on the subject of oil exploration and drilling, reports USA Today. Hakes said, “I think the meeting demonstrates that U.S-Cuban relations are moving steadily forward, and energy is playing a big part in that progress.”

  • Published in Specials

Cuba, European Union Begin Fifth Round of Talks

The fifth round of negotiations for a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Cuba, begins today in this capital with prospect to give way to political dialogue.

The Cuban delegation is presided over by Deputy Foreign Minister, Abelardo Moreno, while the community bloc's group is led by Christian Leffler, Managing Director for the Americas at the European External Action Service.

According to the national television, the chapters of cooperation and trade will be discussed during the meeting with the aim of being concluded, while the discussion on the chapter on political dialogue is expecting to begin.

As in the previous four rounds of this negotiation process opened in April 2014, the role of civil society, human rights and good governance are considered as cross-cutting themes.

  • Published in Now

Cuba-U.S. Relationships: Realism vs. False Objectivity

Similar approaches had foretold what just happened now, in the sixth year of Barack Obama’s presidency, everything had stalled there, drowned by the strict application of the unjust Blockade.  

The New York Times prepared the important step given by Obama, prior permission, of course, from the establishment. Several editorials, comments, and information of their main reporters indicated the present turn of the diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba, inappropriately severed by Washington more than half century ago, with the purpose of bringing Armageddon in the Island. That showed their ignorance on the Cuban people and their maximum leader, Fidel Castro.

Similar approaches had foretold what just happened now, in the sixth year of Barack Obama’s presidency, everything had stalled there, drowned by the strict application of the unjust blockadeand extraterritorial measures that charged multimillionaire fines to banks and companies that had the small of contacts with Cuba.

With Obama the approval to this decision has been greater, with official and public recognition of the failure of the measures adopted against Cuba, of the growing isolation of the United States and the absurdity that United States didn't have relationships with the Antillean archipelago, only 90 miles off their costs, while they resumed relationships with China and Viet Nam, on the latter a total of 70 000 North American aggressors were killed.

Undoubtedly, the commercial opportunities that were untouched by the U.S. were strong reasons on this respect, at a moment in which Cuba was raising its prestige through the medical help to the Ebola victims in Africa, and the entire U.S. nation was shaking by a racist wave, of which Obama himself confessed to be victim.  

Narrow Thinking    

Although the first troglodyte thinking beings were perhaps more human, the thinking of the minority of the mafia of Cuban origin is unquestionably lower. We’ll have to wait and see how they proceed in the future with the gradual and full reestablishment of relationships as well as the elimination of the blockade. After the fading of the logical euphoria for the new situation and, mainly, the liberation of the three antiterrorist heroes wrongly incarcerated in North America, let’s hope for the best and expect for the worst.

We must remember that the liberation of our heroes was foretold by Fidel in June 2001, with his sentence "They will Return! ". We must also remember that regarding the restart of relationships with Cuba there were hints that president John F. Kennedy (JFK) had this same idea, perhaps this was the reason after his murder in 1963 schemed by people within the North American government who thought of him as a traitor for not invading the Island, when he had the opportunity. They never forgave him for that.

In this context, the North American journalist Julia Sweig related that in an interview to Commander in Chief, he spoke of his many later contacts with members of the Kennedy family, even with his niece Maria Shriver. "She is the one who married Schwarzenegger", he said. "The world is a very small place", he stressed and, commented that "Kennedy was very young."

For Sweig, Fidel referred that we would never what would have happened if JFK had lived a bit longer. "Probably, he had saved for Kennedy, in his own mind, the possibility of greatness. It is something totally fascinating and frustrating for him", said the journalist.

This time, the chance was seized by Obama, when sometimes you think it is only a snow job and that everything will remain the same, thinking that The New York Times (NYT) had lost for years the breath of that apparent objectivity, which always characterizes it.

It is not something done in haste, because NYT has been repeatedly chosen by the establishment to introduce situations in which they would not appeal to other less reliable sources, like the powerful Murdoch, with 127 newspapers and the Fox television network.

We have plenty of examples that would be worth a larger comment, but we must remember that NYT was the tip of the spear of the praised politics by the main terrorist State against terrorism since the still unclear attacks of September 11, 2001 against the Twin Towers, and the Pentagon, in Washington.

Likewise, the preparation of the fake arguments to attack, invade, and virtually tear apart Iraq, sinking it into a sectarian fight; as well as the politics against Russia to blame it for every last wrong that happened in Ukraine, and hide that it was the very United States who encouraged, armed, trained, and financed dissidents and Fascists to seize power there, hence taking its troops to the proximities of the Russian borders, with the looming threat of a nuclear catastrophe. And these are just a few details of a false objectivity that last December 17 was defeated by realism.

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