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Australian couples’ therapist Adam Guastella sees it all the time: that “repetitive loop” of talking around the problem at the heart of their marital struggle, anything to avoid facing it head-on. “Therapists are always waiting for an ‘a-ha’ moment, and we try lots of things...
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Chemical seduction: How ‘love drugs’ may one day help couples save failing relationships

Sarah Boesveld, National Post (Canadá)

Sábado 30 de marzo de 2013 (05/04/13)
ver en news.nationalpost.com






Australian couples’ therapist Adam Guastella sees it all the time: that “repetitive loop” of talking around the problem at the heart of their marital struggle, anything to avoid facing it head-on.

“Therapists are always waiting for an ‘a-ha’ moment, and we try lots of things to create [it],” said the clinical psychologist and principal research fellow at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Research Institute.

Already an internationally recognized researcher for his discovery of how oxytocin, a neurologically-driven hormone, promotes emotional understanding in youth with autism, Dr. Guastella had read with interest about oxytocin’s recent branding as a “love hormone” and, likely in a few years time, a “love drug” — a future life preserver for relationships on the rocks.

And so he ran a study: Over a three-week period, 40 Australian couples took a hit of oxytocin (or a placebo) through a nasal spray before starting couples’ therapy.

The results aren’t yet published, but the data show that with the help of oxytocin, that repetitive loop breaks — couples recall memories with more emotion and detail, they appear more open to the other person’s perspective, the fractured bond begins to rebuild, Dr. Guastella said.

“If we can make it so that an ‘a-ha’ moment occurs, it’s going to save a lot of heartbreak, a lot of hostility between couples.”

It’s a seductive idea — that somewhere in the near future failing marriages and partnerships can be rescued by manipulating our brains to keep us from falling out of love.In Canada, 40% of marriages are expected to end in divorce before couples reach their 30th anniversary. Across the Western world, the divorce rate hovers around 50%.

Along with oxytocin and the related bonding hormone vasopressin, researchers are also taking a second look at the possible therapeutic uses for MDMA, better known as the illegal party drug ecstasy.

But could a drug really rescue us from a life of heartache? And even if it could, should we take it?

It’s a new and polarizing set of questions for ethicists who are increasingly wrestling with the collision of technological advances and modern values and mores — questions that were wrestled with during a debate at the University of Manitoba this week.

The debate, titled “Love Drugs: An Ethical Way to Achieve Intimacy,’ squared on whether these drugs are a good or bad idea. Would it would rob a relationship of its authenticity or could it help people achieve their relationship goals if used in a safe, controlled setting?

While proponents say some couples may even have a moral obligation to take the drug to keep a family together, skeptics worry society has become overly quick to medicalize personality traits or social behaviours that have long been considered natural — for example, the recent firestorm over the inclusion of social anxiety disorder (shyness) and major depressive disorder (a lengthy grieving period) in the new DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which comes out in May.

ver en news.nationalpost.com


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