Oxytocin for Autism, Schizophrenia?

Kermit Cole
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The September/October issue of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry reviews the biological and therapeutic research findings for the role of oxytocin in attachment, and explores the relationship of the “love hormone” with “various neuropsychiatric disorders.”

Abstract →

From the abstract:

Oxytocin is a peptide hormone integral in parturition, milk letdown, and maternal behaviors that has been demonstrated in animal studies to be important in the formation of pair bonds and in social behaviors. This hormone is increasingly recognized as an important regulator of human social behaviors, including social decision making, evaluating and responding to social stimuli, mediating social interactions, and forming social memories. In addition, oxytocin is intricately involved in a broad array of neuropsychiatric functions and may be a common factor important in multiple psychiatric disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and mood and anxiety disorders. This review article examines the extant literature on the evidence for oxytocin dysfunction in a variety of psychiatric disorders and highlights the need for further research to understand the complex role of the oxytocin system in psychiatric disease and thus pave the way for developing new therapeutic modalities. Articles were selected that involved human participants with various psychiatric disorders and that either compared oxytocin biology to healthy controls or examined the effects of exogenous oxytocin administration.

Cochran, D., Fallon, D., Hill, M., Frazier, J.; The Role of Oxytocin in Psychiatric Disorders: A Review of Biological and Therapeutic Research Findings. Harvard Review of PsychiatrySeptember/October 2013. 21(5) 219–247. doi: 10.1097/HRP.0b013e3182a75b7d

Of further interest:
Could Oxytocin Be Useful in Treating Psychiatric Disorders (Wolters Kluwer Health)

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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]

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