Psiquiatra infantil y perinatal, madre y activista
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Ilustración del artículo del blog de Ibone Olza Oxitocina versus coronavirus

Cooperate or compete. Trust or fear. Share or fight. Accompany or isolate. In the end, there are only two states: love or fear, and one is the absence of the other. The more love, less fear. The more fear, less love (in the words of Abuela Margarita).

Hard choices, vital decisions always come down to these two options, every time, every day, but now with an intense urgency. Let´s help each other remember.

For a long time, we believe the tale that the survival of our species was achieved by competition, that only the best reproduce, that the underlying cause of survival was the fight, the battle of it all. But little by little we saw that it is just the opposite: that evolution comes from the cooperation amongst species and amongst individuals. That oxytocin, the hormone that facilitates reproduction and propagation of life is released during contact, during eye to eye gazing, during caressing and hugging. We are made for love, friendship, joy, wellbeing and pleasure. Empathy, compassion, solidarity and consolation are the base for human social development – that our brain is social and our intelligence is a result of that sociability, of the language that begins from the first interaction between the newborn and the mother. Just as sperm do not compete but collaborate to fertilize the egg, nature and life bloom in maximum splendor during cooperation.

This pandemic is a constant reminder. Many things are happening at the same time, some have to do with love and some with fear. I believe we are not telling each other bout the first ones enough, we have to put them out there more. To love is to care for, to listen to, to hold, to console, to cooperate. We are seeing it, it is happening: we are witnesses to thousands of people loving every day. It brings out our empathic response, we cry in returned… blessed tears and blessed empathy.

Fear, the fight of flight system, driven by stress and cortisol, is the opposite of oxytocin. It is designed and necessary to guarantee the survival of the individual in situations of maximum danger – but not designed to be “on” for long periods of time. If fear is kept on, it generates exhaustion, a brutal burn-out, the path to illness and the breaking of bonds.

Please, do not be governed by fear. Let us consciously choose oxytocin in times of coronavirus, let’s boost it. For our health, for our relationships, for our species. It is time to gaze into each other’s eyes, to trust, to give the gift of listening, while we wait for the time of hugs to return.


Art by Susanna Carmona

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