Love as Embodied Medicine: The Oxytocin Hypothesis

Lesson Description

Dr. Sue Carter will explain why and how love, acting through oxytocin pathways can reduce anxiety, elicit a sense of safety and promote resilience and restoration. These findings offer physiological explanations for the beneficial consequences of social support and trust across the lifecycle, and even help us understand human evolution. Consistent with the Polyvagal Theory and the work to be presented by Dr. Stephen Porges, oxytocin and related hormones dynamically moderate the autonomic nervous system and the anti-inflammatory pathways necessary to counteract threats and disease. Knowledge of the biology of love also suggests adaptive strategies for self-protection and healing in the face of extreme stress and trauma.

Instructor: Dr. Sue Carter

Sue Carter, PhD is a Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University Bloomington. Previously Dr. Carter was Director of the Kinsey Institute and Rudy Professor of Biology at Indiana University, Bloomington where she is now an Emerita Professor. She has held professorships at the University of Illinois and the University of Maryland. She is the author of more than 350 peer-reviewed publications and has edited 5 books (including “Attachment and bonding: A new synthesis) (MIT Press). Dr. Carter is the scientist who discovered the relationship between social attachment and oxytocin. Her work examines how oxytocin pathways regulate behavioural and physiological systems, across the lifespan, and which are necessary for mammalian sociality, love and eventually human evolution.