Reviews of Oxytocin & Psychosis


Acta Neuropsychiatrica finds, in a review of the evidence regarding oxytocin’s (OT) role in psychosis, that it shows “efficacy in reducing core symptoms in patients with schizophrenia,” but that “the neurobiological underpinnings of schizophrenia as well as the dynamics of the human OT system are complex and inadequately characterised.”

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MadDonald, K., Feifel, D., “Oxytocin in Schizophrenia: a Review of Evidence for its Therapeutic Effects,” Acta Neuropsychiatrica, June, 2012, 24(3):130-146

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A critical review of the influence of oxytocin nasal spray on social cognition in humans: Evidence and future directions
Oxytocin as a Potential Therapeutic Target for Schizophrenia and Other Neuropsychiatric Conditions
Are we there yet? The clinical potential of intranasal oxytocin in psychiatry

Note from Kermit Cole, “In the News” editor:
As with many things that are posted here in “Mad in America,” my interest in looking at this research on oxytocin & psychosis can be characterized as not so much “here is the answer” but rather “if this one thing is true, what does it mean?” I believe that is the spirit that motivated, for instance, Bob Whitaker’s initial interest that resulted in two books and this website. That is the spirit that may best drive and shape participation in this website.
If it is true that oxytocin, a hormone associated with love & attachment, has some effect on phenomena associated with schizophrenia & psychosis, what does it mean? In the confluence of human experience, behavior, emotion, cognition, physiology & attachment, what does it say that this hormone seem to have this effect?
It may or may not turn out that this substance offers a better alternative than others as a treatment. But the research may open a window onto a nexus of psychosis & attachment; perhaps the one within which dialogical and family-based approaches to working with psychosis find their effect.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. I say to these ‘researchers’, pack up your ridiculous fourteen thousand times removed pseudoscientific endeavor to understand MY experience, and invite me as a human being to dinner. But these are the same people who pass by on their way to their ivory towers, homeless, labeled, psychiatrized people, beggars, without eye contact…. and they will NEVER be the ones to ‘explain’ or ‘help’ my experience. Because they see me as a circus animal, a petri dish, disembodied human being, and the search for the ‘evidence’ to prove their prejudices right continues, and the endless tap of either taxypayer or drug company dollars flows, for they are the ones who clink champagne glasses around the dinner party table and tell those in their class, that ‘they work in finding a cure’ for my experiences, and much respect and ego gratification is had, and never in their lives will they help a single person labeled ‘schizophrenic’, because they are tilting at windmills in the vile biological determinist humanity destroying world of ‘psychiatric research’.

    I am glad I don’t have such a ‘researcher’ in my family. I wouldn’t have an ounce of respect for their life choices.

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  2. Their research only shows a correlation between medication and low oxytocin. Where do they get off titling it “lowered oxytocin in schizophrenia”????? It should be titled “”Lowered Oxytocin In Anti-psychotic use”

    Yet again, harm caused by drugs interpreted as organic disease by those who are blinded by their paradigm.
    the only organic mental illnesses are those caused by drugs of one kind of another, or other poisoning.

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