Inside My OCD: I am not Crazy.

“Am I Crazy?!”

This one is one of my intrusive and unrelenting thoughts that I struggle with on a weekly basis. Some thoughts are hard to recognize, but over the years this thought has manifested so many times, when it comes in I heard it loud and clear.

The day I identified it for what it was, an intrusive and irrational thought I obsessed over, TS (Thought Stopper) Elliot kicked in to high gear and it was like a scene in Kill Bill. He informed me that the thought was completely irrational and assured me with the following message:

You are not crazy. You are different. But that does not mean you are irrelevant. You have something to offer.

I’ve read that for people with Purely Obsessional OCD, the intrusive and unrelenting thoughts usually stem from our greatest fears or directly conflict with our most highly held values. This makes perfect sense because 1. My biggest fear is inaction due to fear, or not doing something because I’m scared, aka having courage. 2. One of my highest held values is the belief that as human beings we all strive for connection. As brene brown says, “We are hard wired for connection.” I believe connecting with others is the very way that We evolve.
For example: I have a tattoo on my arm that says

“liberty. hope. justice. “.

I wanted the color to be blood red so when people commented on it I could explain, ” Instead of dying for these things, I’m going to live fighting for them.” I mean, HARD CORE. Remember, I’m a little obsessive sometimes.

Side note: I choose to believe that people with “Pure O” can be obsessive about things of a positive nature too. I’m the entrepreneurial type and when I get a great idea for a business, watch out. Because you won’t hear the end of it.

Continuing on: Intrusive Thoughts stem from Fears
What I’m saying is that I aim to live my life as one of service and paying it forward, knowing the returns will come. I have so many ideas and so many dreams of how to educate people and affect change. So it makes perfect sense that my brain would throw me the fear that I’m crazy, irrelevant, and can’t make a difference in the world because no one will ever listen to me or take me seriously.

This made me question everything I did. Making a phone call. Writing an email. Sending a text message.

in my personal life
Communication with anyone I loved was exhausting because of how much it took to combat the assholes messages.

Don’t reach out to them. They’re busy and they don’t have time for you. They don’t want to hear your problems.

in my business
The thought of a phone call with someone or god forbid writing an email was torturous. And you can forget about prospecting (which is the gas to the money making vehicle). Prospecting includes making new friends and piquing their interest to see if they can benefit from the products or the business. The thought of approaching strangers was so scary, I started isolating myself from everyone, minimizing the amount of human contact I had for the day. Even when I did go out I looked completely unkempt. If I wasn’t dressed for the occasion it was easier justifying not talking to people. This is when it started to get really bad.

Knowing that painting quiets my mind…
I wanted to start painting but I couldn’t or didn’t want to finish anything because when I would stand back and look at it the asshole in my brain would say:

It looks silly and stupid. They’re not gonna get what you mean by it. It looks like a kindergartener picture. That’s a dumb idea. You’re so stupid.

I know. My brain can be a Real asshole sometimes. Anyway, it’s much easier for Elliot to do his job if he can see what he’s fighting. This can be incredibly hard however, because it requires the mental fortitude and emotional strength to acknowledge what it is you want the most in life and what it is you’re most afraid of. Those two things are difficult for most people to do. I’m fortunate that I’ve become
Much more comfortable in exploring my imagination in regards to my dreams and goals. I’m not afraid to dream big. I know with enough hard work and effort I can accomplish anything. In fact, the conviction with which I hold these beliefs is (in my opinion) most definitely connected to the atroshis nature of the intrusive thoughts (directly attacking my lifeblood), and the intensity if the associated fear reaction at the possibility of its realization. Overwhelming doesn’t cut it. Think paralyzing.

Anyway, that’s all I have for that one today. Now that I’ve spent some time identifying the intrusive thoughts, I’m invoking the Wise Advocate. The one who tells it like it is. Here are some examples:

A Hole says:
There’s too much to do and you’ll never get it all done. You’ll forget something and will have accomplished nothing at the end of the day.
It won’t amount to anything so don’t even try.

Wise Advocate says:

FALSE!!
Each minute of the day is precious because you have the opportunity to use it to move forward. It’s about growth, and creativity. You are simply laying one brick at a time, the best humanly possible, and you have peace knowing that you did the best job humanly possible. And you learn from it. It doesn’t matter if there’s still more to do tomorrow. There will always be something to do tomorrow. Make the most of your today, because that is what you have to work with.

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My Eulogy/Prayer for Robin Williams

My Eulogy /Prayer of Gratitude for Robin Williams

Robin Williams was one of the most influential actors of my
childhood, if not the most. He was the stickler your parents were and
the loving nurturing parents they changed in to, demonstrated by his
role in the movie Hook. He was the father who got a second chance at
raising his children and being the father he knew he could be, in the
unforgettable Mrs. Doubtfire. He was the creative, energetic, and
vulnerable boy that was Jack, showing us that to embrace our strengths
and limitations is to love ourselves and be loved by others.

To say the least, Robin Williams was a storyteller, and did so in a
way that instilled a sense of hope. The takeaway from his movies were
often a flickering torch in the dark tunnel I’d sometimes find myself
in.

The reality is, what he exuded did not always live within him. What
resided in him was no less than a fighting soul, living the constant
battle of not enough. He was a silent sufferer of the worst kind of
killer: disconnection.

For it is only in a state of being utterly and helplessly alone that
someone could end their own life. An inability to see an escape from
the hell that is their thoughts, the pain gets to be so much that the
idea of ending it seems the only way to stop the pain. I’ve been
there. I would bet many other people have, too.

So what is next for him? Well the person that he was is gone, and his
soul is released. With all the light and love from the Source, the
soul will examine it’s earthly experience, reflecting on choices made
with the power of Free Will, looks at relationships made, and
processes lessons learned.

The silver lining to this tragedy is founded in my belief of
reincarnation. The soul that inhabited Robin Williams will inevitably
choose to come to earth again. When committing to this adventure, he
will do so with the purest of intent for lessons to be learned in his
lifetime. He may even chart it out, picking out particular trials or
trying circumstances, to present his earthly self with the opportunity
to create and grow, (as is a goal of the earthly experience).

My prayer for him is this: I pray for his soul, upon returning to this
earth, to be nurtured and blessed, with an abundance of love and
light. I pray for his soul to have a strong connection to the source,
so that he may draw upon infinite strength, love, and wisdom to help
him triumph when faced with challenge. More than anything I pray that
when given the power of free will – the power to make choices founded
in either fear or love – that he choose love. When given the gift of
complete life freedom and the ability to manifest and create his
dreams, that he allow himself to dream big and nurture his best wishes
for his fellow humanity.
I pray for the blessed souls that will be the parents and guardians
upon his return to earth. I pray they intentionally and earnestly
care for, love, and grow his mind body and soul as best they can.

These are all things that the late Robin Williams seemed to have
accomplished in his life… But what his self-inflicted death tells
us is there was one thing he didn’t do once, and his journey has ended
because of it…he didn’t keep going.

Anyone who’s struggled with depression, suicidal ideology, chronic
illness, or obsessive compulsive disorder will tell you… When you’re
contemplating giving up – on any range of things from – fighting
debilitating fatigue to ending your life, that the outcome is because
you made a decision. You stopped looking for alternative solutions,
you made your mind out that that choice was the OnLY alternative. The
fear of something, whether it was the fear of failure, or the fear of
inaction, you made a choice and then took action. Only certain
actions happen unconsciously and ending your life is a very conscious
decision (unless your subconscious mind has become extremely ill and
therefor your sick subconscious is manifesting your ill health.). No
matter the case, the choice is made, to either fight for the life that
you want, or end it.

If I had to guess from his history of alcoholism, Robin Williams had
faced the choice of ending his life before, and decided against it.
He had decided that it was worth it to him to fight for his dreams and
passions. If I had to guess, it was his love for his fellow man that
drove him to fight so hard.

My prayer for him is that in his next lifetime, his body mind and
spirit be strengthened to that of Hercules. My prayer is that he face
his own mortality every day, and still remember that he is from the
stock of Supernatural. I pray that he view himself as a vehicle for
which to love, create, and grow in the name of Life and all that is
Beautiful. I pray that he find himself surrounded by love, and that
he always remember where he came from and why he chose to have This
adventure.

With all the love in my heart, for everything you did for me and
countless other souls, for the amazing and beautiful fight you gave,
for your beautiful fight and the life you lived.

Amen

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Dedicated to…

Recently I started painting and I was finding it difficult to finish anything I started (not a new issue for me). I realize now that I couldn’t finish because I was obsessing over the thought that it “couldn’t be right” … Continue reading

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Morning Prayer and Meditation

Today is going to be a beautiful day of non-planning.  I’m going to enjoy the gorgeous weather, open the windows and clean and love my house and my life.  Nothing is too great or too small to do today.  No task is more or less important.  They are all important.  As they are part of the beautiful process.  Growth and creation are the destination, and today I am merely a vehicle.  Amen.

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Let the Madness Begin

In Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, he quotes poet-philosopher Friedrich Schiller; “You worthy critics, or whatever you may call yourselves, are ashamed or afraid of the momentary and passing madness which is found in all real creators, the longer or shorter duration of which distinguishes the thinking artist from the dreamer.”

I’d like to call your attention to this particular part; “ashamed or afraid of the momentary and passing madness

I often say that people who do not want to “dig deep” resist because they are afraid of what they might find.  This is an underrated benefit/product of a good counselor-client relationship.  One of a counselor’s main responsibilities is to do what is in their power to make you feel you are in a safe environment.  This is not only referring to the actual physical setting the counseling is taking place in (a basketball court in the Bronx vs. a private office in the country), but also how far into your soul you can search with the assurance that you won’t be lost, or at the very least alone.  Soul-searching is scary.  So scary most people don’t do it.  They do not feel safe enough to venture the unknown territory of their subconscious, for fear of what they’ll find, usually pointed toward some sort of suspected inadequacy.  A counselor doing his or her job will demonstrate characteristics such that the client feels understood enough, attended to, and not judged.  It is only under these circumstances that they may take a glimpse into the deeper parts of their hearts and minds, the parts that are less well known than the fluffy stuff, and as such seem overwhelming and disconcerting to navigate.

I’ve been experiencing some severe writers block lately.  When I came across this quote, it hit home, hard.  Every time I sit down to write, the inner critics go to town, detailing to me what I should do and how and why and “Don’t do that they’ll think it’s stupid…Make sure and do this to help them better understand!”  For this reason, something that was crystal clear in the middle of my workout becomes muddled and misshapen by the time I get to the computer, if I can even keep the critics quiet long enough for me to sit down.  What’s the result?  Frustration, stagnation, and STRESS.  I’ve been producing abnormally high amounts of adrenaline the past few weeks, which I can directly connect to the increase in stress I’ve been experiencing with this writer’s paralysis.  Why can’t I say what I think?  What am I afraid of?  I’m afraid people will think I’m nuts.  I’m afraid people will think I’m stupid.  Why?  Because when I told people what I really think, they gave me puzzled looks and blank stares.  So I stopped telling people.  It made so much sense to me!  Did I not articulating myself well enough?  Even when I do, the ideas are usually so incredulous that their response includes a million and one obvious reasons why the idea wouldn’t fly.

When I was younger it didn’t bother me so much.  I took it as a challenge of sorts.  I’d prove to them my idea could work!  And I often did.  Then somewhere along the way, I ran into a bunch of dream kickers.  If you can picture it: my creative mind was like a schoolboy in the fetal position behind the playground, being kicked by a gang of older boys so they could commandeer his lunch money.  It’s human nature, basic behaviorism – you do something and get kicked enough times, you don’t do that something anymore.  For me, that meant no more talking about radical ideas.  Then, somewhere down the line, I started to question everything I thought.  If I was wrong about the big stuff, couldn’t I be wrong about more?

The schoolboy starts to look more like a 14 year old girl and the gang of older boys is penetrating her psyche.  The heinous act they commit is not only traumatic for her, but they have stolen something from her that she can never have back; her innocence. And with that…her child-like wonder and creativity. I don’t know how long this has been happening, or how it got this bad, but that quote was my “wake-up call”. From now on, I’m fighting back.

Let them think I’m crazy.  Let them think I’m irrelevant.  I don’t care, because I just want them to think.  Let the madness begin.

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Get IN Control!

Painting: The Power of Intention

Most people know the feeling of failure.  The failure of not meetings goals can be heartbreaking for most, and depressing to many.  Ever since I was little I’ve set big goals for myself.  In my mid-20s, I’m finding that my huge goals lead to an anxiety that results in feeling so overwhelmed that I’m paralyzed.  They feel so insurmountable, that I give up before taking a step.  They feel so far away, the first step feels useless.  I feel so out of control!  Have you ever felt like this?  Though our goals may not look the same, I know you’ve felt that feeling before.  It’s usually over something you really want, something you dream about, something you think would happen in a perfect world.

This post will explain an activity that I use to help me regain a sense of control over negativity and fear.  It helps me to focus my thoughts on what I want, instead of allowing fears to race through and around my head.  I know that the way to experience well-being is to simply allow it.  In essence, this activity helps to shut out the noise of what’s not working.  It tells your inner critic to take a hike, while you relax and have some time with the one who knows you, the one who knows your heart, and the one who holds the key to your stream of well-being.

Painting The Power of Words

1.  Choose a word that is incredibly empowering to you, yet satisfying.  The word I chose is “torque”.  In mechanics it means – moment of force.  In machinery – the measured ability of a rotating element to overcome turning resistance.  I embody this word for my business.  The steps required to reach out to a perfect stranger and ask them if they want to benefit from the business opportunity…that requires some force for me.  Why?  I’m out of practice so it takes a lot of energy for me to think on my feet and run through all the different skills in my head, trying to figure out which one is the right one to say.  The company I work with is heading into momentum and I won’t be with them unless I start my personal momentum on my team (which I am doing by exercising torque).  I also embody this word on a spiritual level.  I know that there is an endless stream of well-being that I have endless access to.  If I’m not experiencing this well-being it is because I’m (instead) experiencing resistance.  Resistance comes from so many things, but usually is a form of some belief that’s engrained in your subconscious over your lifetime.  Resistance sounds like, “I’m not ____ enough.” I’m not smart enough, worthy enough, pretty enough, tough enough, etc.  I know that I’m perfect and loved, because I am not my physical being, I am my physical and my non-physical, I am the same as you, and I am the sun and the moon, the grass and the trees.  I’m everything and everything is me.  Because I want to release this resistance I have about being not enough, I’m going to focus on my unity with everything else.  I’ll do this by releasing resistance, utilizing torque.

2. Choose a large canvas, or as many small canvases as there are letters in your word.  I used six 1ft.x1ft. square canvases.

3. Choose colors of paint match the vibration that the word gives you.  If it’s a pick-me-up word, use your favorite bright colors.  I chose pink, orange, yellow, blue, purple, and of course Qivana green.

4. Create the space:  light candles, play soft music, situate everything you’ll need within arms length, and be ready to fully immerse yourself in the process.

You will first be painting a background before painting the word.  I chose to do a different color for each background of my separate canvases.

NOW for the FUN part:

As you begin painting…

Think about your word.  Allowing yourself to expand on each thought for as long as it keeps you in a state of well-being, use the following questions to guide your intention during the exercise.

What do you think of when you see this word? Why did you choose this word?  What special meaning does it have to you?  When did it first strike you as empowering? In what context was that?  What was the situation like?

Let the good thoughts flow.  Keep painting.

If you find it difficult to continue with a certain thought, or you hear negativity trying to creep back in, give gratitude.

“Thank you for giving me this time and space to collect my thoughts.”  “I’m so enjoying this experience of simply being.  Not of this world, but one with creation and growth.”  “Thank you for the gift of free will, the ability to choose my thoughts and use them intentionally with positivity.

As you’re giving gratitude, you’ll find it easier to accept the fact that you SHOULD have what you desire, and that the stream of well-being is there for you.  Focus on the rhythm of your brush stroke.  Just as each brushstroke changes the painting, it is the same with each breath you breathe in; you are more in allowance of well-being.   With each brushstroke, you are relaxed, and confident in your ability to handle any task.  Each brushstroke is only a single step.  You realize that just as each stroke adds to the bigger picture, so does each step in life.  You see how just as they flow easily and effortlessly, it is no different from steps you take toward goals in  your life.

I’m not worried about the outcome.  It will not be perfect.  It is not meant to be perfect.  It is only an expression of me, and where I am now.  I am here, in this space, a space of appreciation and faith.

5. Paint the background of the canvas, knowing that your word will be in BIG BOLD letters (whatever is aesthetically pleasing to you and fun is best).  There are no limits here.

As you complete your painting, bring the activity full circle with your intention.  “I’m almost done, and I’ve enjoyed this space of creation, and allowing.  I am fully immersed in allowing well-being to stream into my life, no holds barred.  The door is wide open and I know that each next step I take is only another one directed toward fulfillment.  I will hold on to this feeling of faith and allowance as I move forward throughout the day.  I don’t expect perfection.  Nor do I want it to be perfect.  It is merely another opportunity to grow, create, and love.

Namaste

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An Algorithm for Human Evolution

This is a paper I wrote for my Behavioral Neuroscience class.  It provides a comprehensive picture of the mechanisms involved in human evolution.  As the author, I reserve the right to tweak this theory at any time.  It also acts as a foundation for What Autism Is and Where It Comes From.

Friends and Colleagues: Any insights you would like to share are much appreciated.  This is about information sharing.  And you know what they say, “Two heads are better than one.”

                                              Algorithm for Human Evolution

                Alicia Novoa/ University of Tennessee/ December 10, 2013

Author’s Note

The reader may find it helpful to skim the Glossary of terms before reading the paper. The nature of the subject in question is interdisciplinary.  Even though definitions of relevant terms and concepts are consistent within disciplines (most of the time), definitions of relevant terms and concepts are inconsistent when combining disciplines such as economics, psychology, and neuroscience, only some of the disciplines providing support for this theory.

Purpose

“The last frontier in this world- and perhaps the greatest one – lies within us.  The human nervous system makes possible all that we can do, all that we can know, and all that we can experience.  Its complexity is immense, and the task of studying it and understanding it dwarfs all previous explorations our species has undertaken.” – Neil Carlson (Carlson, 2012)

The purpose of this paper is to provide an explanation for the role of Oxytocin and Worthiness in the realm of human existence, citing original and peer reviewed research to support my theory.

Foundation/Background

Brene Brown detailed the painful reality that shame is an epidemic in this country.  She defines shame as the fear of disconnection, and makes a point to say, “…connection is why we are here, we’re neurologically wired that way.” (Brown, 2010)

Dr. Paul Zak describes connection’s origins using lobsters (Zak, 2012): Oxytocin is an evolved form of isotonic, the first chemical in the brain that allowed for human connection, in order to propagate the species.  *What influenced the development of the OT regulation system?

Proposition

An algorithm for evolution:

1. The inherent desire to live stems from an intrinsic sense of self-worth.  It includes both a desire for connection and fear of disconnection.

2. The inherent desire to live stems from an intrinsic sense of self-worth.  Within the desire to live there exists a balance between the desire for connection and the fear of disconnection.

3.  Fitting within the realm of General Adaptation Syndrome, OT is released in the stress response, inciting a person to seek social support yet often stimulating a fear support will not be attainable.

4. Based on the coping mechanism demonstrated, the neuro-makeup of the person is affected accordingly.

4a. If the person demonstrates mental fortitude, they will be successful in making a connection.  If the person is successful in making a connection to relieve the stress response, they will experience a subsequent boost in Oxytocin.

4b. If the person demonstrates avoidance or numbing, they will not make a successful connection.  If the person does not make a successful connection, they do not experience a subsequent boost in OT, manifesting as a feeling of worthlessness or shame.  This negative consequence of not making connection or disconnecting possibly and very probably impairs future functioning of OT delivery.

5. A necessary condition for connection (and thereby adaptation) is an intrinsic sense of worth.  When severe stressors occur during particularly critical psychosocial developmental periods, impairment of OT system can be substantial.

6.  Thankfully, understanding of intrinsic worth can be developed through practicing mental fortitude.

Abraham Maslow and Evolution

Abraham Maslow developed the Hierarchy of Needs model in the 1940-1950s and the theory remains valid today for understanding human motivation and personal development.  It can also be extended to understanding species development and evolution.

(Progressive Neurobiology 2009)

Many, if not most, of OT’s functions, from social interactions (affiliation, aggression) and sexual behavior to eventual parturition, lactation and maternal behavior, may be viewed as specifically facilitating species.”  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that we must satisfy each need in turn, starting with the first, which deals with the most obvious needs for survival itself.  Only when the lower order needs are satisfied are we concerned with the higher order needs.  This provides support for the theory that as humans move up the hierarchy of needs, their capacity for connection increases and they evolve.  Conversely, if the things that satisfy our lower order needs are swept away, we are no longer concerned about the maintenance of our higher order needs. See needs below (in order of necessity):

1. Biological and physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.

2. Safety needs – stability, protection, security, order, law, limits

3. Love and belonging needs – affection, relationships, work group, and family

4. Esteem needs – status, responsibility, reputation, and achievements

  1. Self-actualization – personal growth and fulfillment

As human continue to evolve, the capacity for connection increases.  As humans move higher up on the hierarchy of needs, the POTENTIAL for connection increases, but potential is a necessary and not sufficient condition.

Still within the realm of Maslow’s theory, the human species made it all the way to about 12,000 years ago from simply hunting and gathering.  At this point known as the Neolithic Revolution, any human being alive had the capacity to hunt and gather, enough so to provide for family and contribute to the community. In the 21st century, technological innovation and sociopolitical and cultural institutions have allowed certain people to survive despite their inability to meet needs as basic as sleep and sex, or food and shelter.  For this reason, society includes emotional, mental, and behavioral states of humans with improperly developed OT systems.   There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that facing a challenge – be it emotional, mental, or behavioral – is best accomplished through a mindset of growth, where vulnerability and acknowledging imperfection are essential. (Dweck, 2006)

Known/Stated Assumptions

Moving forward, it is important to acknowledge my assumptions:

1. Existence of and purpose behind intrinsic worth – Intrinsic worth drives evolution of the species.  Intrinsic worth is what tells a human they are worthy of living, through making connection with other human beings.

2. Understanding of Intrinsic Worth – Stin Hansen, an award winning, nationally-certified meditation expert offers the following: “Your worth and value as a person was established long before you began your earthly experience.  You are of infinite worth and value.  You are loved and cherished beyond comprehension.  You are unique and one of a kind.  Nothing that you could EVER say or do would ever change that truth.  Nothing.” (Hansen, 2013)

Support for the Algorithm of Universal Evolution

1.The inherent desire to live stems from an intrinsic sense of self-worth.  Dr. Paul Zak, a leading researcher on OT, is also known for the development of a new discipline called Neuroeconomics, where he has proven the necessity of trust in communities for economic freedom and in turn, societies prosper. (Zak, 2013)  He initially postulated, based on his research findings that the increase in OT experienced after anonymously sending and receiving money was correlated to an increase in trust was a result of demonstrated trustworthiness by the random partner.  In turn, trust was exchanged.

Onora O’Neill, leading trust researcher, says that trustworthiness is demonstrated through making yourself vulnerable.  She stated, “If you make yourself vulnerable to the other party,then that is very good evidence that you are trustworthyand you have confidence in what you are saying.” (O’Neill, 2013)

Trustworthy can be defined as: able to be relied on to do or provide what is needed or right.  It can also be viewed as worthy of trust where trust is defined as: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; synonymous with HOPE

Interpreting the results of Dr. Zak’s study within the framework of this theory, it becomes probable that people who give some or all of their money to a stranger and experience a subsequence boost in OT have a sense of worth, feeling confident in demonstrating their worth of the other person’s trust.  When their belief in their worth is reciprocated by the random party demonstrated by some or all of the money is returned, the person experiences another subsequent boost in OT.  Relatedly, when a participant had experienced subsequent trauma during a critical psychosocial developmental period (such as the rape victim), and their self-concept involved more shame than worthiness, they will not give money away and if they do they will not experience a subsequent boost in OT.

2.  Fitting within the realm of General Adaptation Syndrome, OT is released in the stress response, inciting a person to seek social support yet often stimulating a fear support will not be attainable.

Kelly McGonigal, Positive Neuropsychology researcher, explains the social role OT plays. “It’s as much a part of your stress response as the adrenaline that makes your heart pound.  And when oxytocin is released in the stress response, it is motivating you to seek support.  Your biological stress response is nudging you to tell someone how you feel instead of bottling it up. Your stress response wants to make sure you notice when someone else in your life is struggling so that you can support each other.” (McGonigal, 2013)

3. Based on the coping mechanism demonstrated, the neurological development and function of the person is affected accordingly.

OT has effects in the brain that are not necessarily limited to a specific spatial location because of its release mechanism, and is not restricted to a temporal scale because of its long half-life and potential to influence other systems.  I’ve performed a variety of extensive psychosocial assessments, which resulted in the following factors being considered fundamental to “individual differences”.  More extensive psychosocial assessments would be a second way to improve our understanding of the varying effects of oxytocin, taking into account individual differences. (Bethlehem, van Honk, Auyeung & Baron-Cohen, 2013)

3a. If a person demonstrates mental fortitude, they will be successful in making a connection.  If the person is successful in making a connection to relieve the stress response, they will experience a subsequent boost in Oxytocin.  (Kosfeld et al. (2005) showed that intranasal administration of OT makes people more willing to take social risks in social-economic interactions.  Social risk, as categorized under vulnerability, is demonstrated by those with a sense of worth.  Individuals with normally functioning OT systems have faith in their intrinsic worth and are more willing to embrace their imperfections, and further attempt connection resulting from authenticity.

3b. If the person demonstrates avoidance or numbing, they will not make a successful connection.  If the person does not make a successful connection, they do not experience a subsequent boost in OT, manifesting as a feeling of worthlessness or shame.  Worthlessness and shame can be indicated by self-defeating behavior patterns and variety of emotional, mental, and behavioral disorders.  This negative consequence of not making connection or disconnecting possibly and very probably impairs future functioning of OT delivery.  Evidence for this includes studies on the dissolution of affiliative bonds.  Results typically demonstrated intense effects on human brain activity and psychophysiology (Fisher, Brown, Aron, Strong, & Mashek, 2010; Freed, Yanagihara, Hirsch, & Mann, 2009; Najib, Lorberbaum, Kose, Bohning, &

George, 2004; O‘Connor, Gundel, McRae, & Lane, 2007), it is likely to assume that structural and neural changes take place during periods of bond formation as well.  (Schneiderman, Zilberstein-Kra, Leckman & Feldman, 2011)

Another study found the high amount of physical contact with the mother is, apart from warmth and nutrition, important for the infant’s overall maturation, as it constraints physiological and behavioral responses to stressful stimuli (Kaffman and Meaney, 2007; Kraemer, 1997; Kuhn and Schanberg, 1998; Levine, 2005) (Veenema, 2012).

4. A necessary condition for connection (and thereby adaptation) is an intrinsic sense of worth.  When severe stressors occur during particularly critical psychosocial developmental periods, impairment of OT system can be substantial.

As stated earlier, a prolonged priming effect of OT can elicit functional rewiring of neuronal networks. This functional rewiring is a temporary alteration of the way the network is configured and how it responds to an exogenous signal or stimulus. This pattern of temporary strengthening or weakening of functional connections can occur after a single peptidergic signal, as is the case in an OT administration study (Bethlehem, van Honk, Auyeung & Baron-Cohen, 2013).  It is also obvious that there is a critical period of time, namely earlier stages of psychosocial development, where neurodevelopment is at the highest risk of being compromised.  “The prototypical pattern is a peak in the age-crime curve during adolescence – that is, individuals are more likely to engage in criminal behavior in mid-to late adolescence than at any other period of the lifespan (Moffitt, 1993). This adolescent peak in the age-crime curve holds across countries and cultures, and is observed for multiple forms of criminal behavior including violent assault and property crimes (Fairchild, 2011).  “It is also notable that normative developmental research has shown that there are alterations in motivational process during the adolescent period, which may lead to heightened reward seeking and risk-taking behavior at the population level. (Fairchild, 2011)  (Merikangas et al., 2010).  The prevalence of major depressive disorder increased two-fold over the adolescent period, whereas rates of substance use disorders were six times higher in 17-18 year olds relative to 13-14 year olds.  As such, this study convincingly demonstrated that adolescence is a key period for the emergence of psychopathology.  (Fairchild, 2011)

Conclusion

By way of inducing humans to be courageous when stress makes them vulnerable, oxytocin is the molecule that communicates to the spirit that a human life, an earthly experience, has value.  Or is it the spirit that tells the molecule?  Obviously further research is warranted.  The theory can also be demonstrated using economic models of Utility Theory of Value.

Glossary of Terms

Intrinsic – belonging naturally; essential.

Mental Fortitude (original definition from Jones et. al, 2002)– Mental toughness is “Having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to: generally, cope better than your opponents with the many demands (competition, training, lifestyle) that sport places on a performer; specifically, be more consistent and better than (other humans) your opponents in remaining determined, focused, confident, and in control under pressure.” (Jones, Hanton, & Connaughton, 2002, p. 209).Jones, G., Hanton, S., & Connaughton, D. (2002). What Is This Thing Called Mental Toughness? An Investigation of Elite Sport Performers. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14(3), 205-218. doi:10.1080/10413200290103509

Mental Fortitude (my definition) – having the natural or developed psychological processes that enables you to: generally, cope better than other humans with the many demands that life places on a person, specifically, maintain a sense of worthiness that is intrinsic, and independent of temporal value and achievements.

Temporal

1. Of or relating to the material world; worldly

2. Lasting only for a time; not eternal; passing

Worthiness – Having value, purpose; useful; deserving

Intrinsic Self-Worth – Established long before the earthly experience began. Each individual is of infinite worth and value, loved and cherished beyond comprehension.  Every human is unique and one of a kind.  Nothing an individual can say or do would ever change that truth.(Stin Hansen, Three Quick Ways to Get Low Self Esteem, September 26, 2013, stin’s blog, mythoughtcoach.com)

References

Abraham Harold Maslow. (2013). The Biography Channel website. Retrieved 07:46, Dec 10, 2013, from http://www.biography.com/people/abraham-maslow-9401669.

Bethlehem, R. A. I., van Honk, J., Auyeung, B., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2013). Oxytocin, brain physiology, and functional connectivity: A review of intranasal oxytocin fmri studies. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(7), 962-974. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306453012003460

Brown, B. (Writer) (2010). The power of vulnerability [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

Carlson, N. (2012). Physiology of behavior. (11 ed.). Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books.

Fairchild, G. (2011). The developmental psychopathology of motivation in adolescence. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 1, 414-429. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2011.07.009

Hansen, S. (2013). My thought coach. Retrieved from http://www.mythoughtcoach.com

Jones, G., Hanton, S., & Connaughton, D. (2002). What Is This Thing Called Mental Toughness? An Investigation of Elite Sport Performers. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14(3), 205-218. doi:10.1080/10413200290103509

Lee, H., Macbeth, A., Pagani, J., & Young, W. (2009). Oxytocin: the great facilitator of life. Progress in Neurobiology, 88(2), 127-151. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2689929/

McGonigal, K. (Writer) (2013). How to make stress your friend [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend.html

O’Neill, O. (Writer) (2013). What we don’t understand about trust [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/onora_o_neill_what_we_don_t_understand_about_trust.html

Prog Neurobiol. 2009 June; 88(2): 127–151. Published online 2009 April 10. doi:  10.1016/j.pneurobio.2009.04.001

Schneiderman, I., Zilberstein-Kra, Y., Leckman, J. F., & Feldman, R. (2011). Love alters autonomic reactivity to emotions. Emotion, 11(6), 1314-1321. doi: 10.1037/a0024090

Zak, P. (Writer) (2011). Trust, morality — and oxytocin? [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_zak_trust_morality_and_oxytocin.html

Zak, P. (2012). The moral molecule: The source of love and prosperity. New York: Penguin Group.

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