Since it was Valentine’s Day on Friday, which is all about love, and my son was born on Valentine’s Day, I felt a certain hormone needed mentioning again. The 'Love Hormone' Oxytocin is responsible for many effects in humans. To name a few effects- orgasm, cervix dilation during childbirth, the let down reflex in breastfeeding- to name but a few. It has also been associated with trust, empathy and bonding and has been shown to be deficient in a significant proportion of people with Autism. For these reasons it has been used as a supplement in ASD to assist, in conjunction with educational therapies, with the amelioration of the social impairments common in ASD.
WHERE CAN I GET SOME OF THAT?
It is readily available on the internet. Two popular sites that people purchase goods from are Amazon stock now it. Amazon.com is selling Oxytocin Factor -30ml Nasal Spray and is described as ‘high quality- developed and distributed by medical, allied health, and mental health professionals’ suggests that it’s intended destination are customers like those with social issues such as those with ASD. The eBay version is called Oxytocin Pheromone Spray for Men and Women PherLuv, suggests it is for a very different purpose and I am sure their sales sky rocket around Valentine’s Day!
SO WILL IT REALLY WORK?
In my opinion the questions we should be asking are:-
Is bonding purely chemically controlled or are there other factors at play?
How long lasting is the bonding effect after the chemical has subsided?
How are bonding and socialising connected?
Will improving the bonding between two people automatically mean this will improve their social interactions?
The Love Hormone
Without boring you with long winded technical jargon and philosophising, let’s just say that I don’t believe it is that simple. Yes, I do believe the spray will cause temporary ‘magnetism’ towards people- I guess you could call this ‘motivation in a bottle’. Just thinking from a common sense point of view there are so many different factors that can cause you to be drawn to a person or repelled. A lady might be attracted to a guy who smells nice and has kind eyes, but be turned off when she hears how he talks, his breath stinks or finds out he hates animals. I believe it is true to say that interactions start off from the basis of motivation, and this nasal spray can be just the ‘leg up’ that people with ASD need, but after that you need the social skills, which don’t come in a bottle- these need to be learnt. Very powerful therapies such as Relationship Development Intervention and Applied Behaviour Analysis can be used to develop the motivation to be with other people and to teach these skills. There are many other approaches including Social Stories, Circle of Friends and Teaching people with Autism to mind read, that can be very useful. People are dynamic complex organisms whose social interactions cannot be simplified down to just chemical, or just mental, or just behavioural. For this reason I believe it is naive to think we can focus on treating ASD’s social issues with one approach only.