Lower oxytocin in women with history of child abuse

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Here's the abstract:

Lower CSF oxytocin concentrations in women with a history of childhood abuse.

Early-life disruption of the parent-child relationship, for example, in the form of abuse, neglect or loss, dramatically increases risk for psychiatric, as well as certain medical, disorders in adulthood. The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) plays a seminal role in mediating social affiliation, attachment, social support, maternal behavior and trust, as well as protection against stress and anxiety. We therefore examined central nervous system OT activity after early-life adversity in adult women. We measured OT concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collected from 22 medically healthy women, aged 18-45 years, categorized into those with none-mild versus those with moderate-severe exposure to various forms of childhood abuse or neglect. Exposure to maltreatment was associated with decreased CSF OT concentrations. A particularly strong effect was identified for emotional abuse. There were inverse associations between CSF OT concentrations and the number of exposure categories, the severity and duration of the abuse and current anxiety ratings. If replicated, the association of lower adult CSF OT levels with childhood trauma might indicate that alterations in central OT function may be involved in the adverse outcomes of childhood adversity.

Heim C, Young LJ, Newport DJ, Mletzko T, Miller AH, Nemeroff CB.

Mol Psychiatry. 2008 Oct 28

1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, WMRB, Atlanta, GA, USA.

Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 28 October 2008; doi:10.1038/mp.2008.112.

Very Interesting

Hi Marnia,

Thanks for posting this. I'm curious what they were considering as child abuse. They mention that emotional abuse was the most damaging to OT levels. I'm wondering what the other categories of abuse were. Was sexual abuse studied? I'm also wondering what is meant by "loss". Is this loss in the woman as a child or is it loss to her parent?

I'm interested because there was lots of loss in my mother's life when I was very young. She herself has said to me that she thinks much of my health challenges has roots in her inability to love me in childhood as much as she would have liked to have been able to do. There was also sexual and emotional abuse in my youth. I struggle with all the indicators of low OT levels with the exception of maternal behaviour which isn't really expected of men (social affiliation, attachment, social support, maternal behavior and trust, as well as protection against stress and anxiety). My mother was similar.

So I imagine that the good news is that this can be changed. I'm wondering if there are other people in this forum with experiences of childhood sexual abuse and if this approach to healing has been helpful to them?

Love ya Smile


Be sure to listen

to this radio program...at least the first two parts...if you haven't yet. Yes...healing is possible...but you need about three weeks of bonding behaviors...with no one trying to "get" anything from you.“Love Is a Battlefield,” This American Life, Aug. 31, 2007, http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=317.

This is what lovers *could* be doing for each other. Once that deep, healing connection is made with another human being, "normal" behavior with everyone is easier. Inspiring, eh?


Yes, that was very interesting. I found the story of the Romanian orphan particularly touching and hopeful.



the battlefield

When you said something about the "Love is a Battlefield" I can so relate.
The defense comes out when my love partner begins showing signs of affection, because that would be the only time I would be the focus of his affectionate attention. And, I knew that it was the initiation of sex. Sometimes I would ask for just the backrub or the cuddle and he would agree, but always allow his own desires to kick in and then he would try to do the foreplay thing to get me interested. I felt betrayed and therefore had no way of enjoying the experience.
And, your words:
"Yes...healing is possible...but you need about three weeks of bonding behaviors...with no one trying to "get" anything from you"

These words made me wonder how to ever find someone with that much patience to give to me. I have always been the one doing the giving. In fact, I have such an ingrained pattern of being the one to give rather than receive, that I wonder how difficult that would be to heal. I had a friend who was a counselor and in her workshops she would tell folks to allow another to touch you without you having any thougts of feeling like you needed to touch back, or guilt of feeling you must "give" anything back. I am closer to being ready for experiencing that now than at anytime in my life. But I think I would have to experience non sexual advances for a period of time and then set an agreement before taking the touching to more sexual places. :)
What you write about, makes perfect sense for me and I think I am more hard wired for the non-orgasmic goal oriented sexuality.
Thanks for listening.

ooops, sorry,

I think I do not know how to put the posts in the right comment. I thought I was putting a comment to Marnia about the childhood sexual abuse area.

This is a fine place to post

Sorry...I've been on the road, so this reply is delayed.

Actually, I think once men realize why bonding behaviors are important, apart from foreplay, they will make great pilots. We just haven't had a good language for explaining it until now.

I've enabled you to blog if you like. Welcome to the site. I'll soon match you with a Companion.

Thanks for posting

your comment, Giraffe. (I like your name).

I can relate a WHOLE lot to what you said.

You said that you were 'closer to being ready for experiencing that now than at anytime' in your life.

How do you think that you would feel in a situation like that, if you don't mind me asking? What makes you more ready now than before?

I'm just wondering.

Glad you wrote here. I resonate with a lot of what you said. That's for sure.


More ready to receive

I am more ready to "receive" now. Maturity has its advantages when one does try to learn more about oneself with all experiences. I realize that for years I was a "giver" seeking for acceptance and love through my "giving" and being the "helper." I can love myself more now and don't feel so ashamed to ask for what I want but to not feel quilty for wanting it. After being loved with an unconditional love in the past, I know how it feels, and it feels good and I want to experience it again. By learning of this site, and reading some of the information offered here combining the ancient with the science I realized that I have not been "alive" my own self since my best friend and lover died 4 years ago. I know that I can accept someone loving me, giving to me, and that I know deep down that I want it because life is in more harmony, peace, happiness, when the circle of give and receive is better balanced. It is still scarry for me if I should find a mate to live this lifestyle and have this attitude talked about on here, and of what I call the peaceful path. Being a single woman for more than half of my adult life and having several relationships along the way as I journeyed further and further up the "healing" steps to self actualization and peace with myself. Reading lots of self help to learn about relationships, communication, and so on; having the theory but not the practical experience. I slowly have begun to open myself up to acknowledge that I do not have much practice but I have potential. Somewhere on here I read the quote "it is better to do it poorly than not do it" with the "it" being anything you want, your life, whatever.

Thanks Daffy for responding to me. I like your name, too. :)

I've been there, too

I was abused (sexually, physically, emotionally) as a child and young woman, too, and I know exactly what is meant by needing lots of time with JUST bonding behaviors without my husband trying to "get" anything from me. I think people who were sexually abused are extremely sensitive to signs of exploitation, like when someone is using you to turn themselves on, no matter how unintentionally. It sets off all the old signals that we used to perceive as children when we were being exploited, but were powerless to do anything about. And perhaps its those old feelings of powerlessness that are the worst of all...that the person charged with our care...our father or mother...is using us like a THING that has no feelings. And seductive behaviors are very alarming, too, even innocent ones. Its really like being between a rock and a hard place, just like it was as a lonely, neglected child...wanting attention, but not wanting to be seduced, but feeling like we have to allow the seduction just to get a little attention, and terribly anxiety provoking. If I could have when I was a child, I would have shouted "STOP...I WANT LOVE AND TENDERNESS, NOT SEDUCTION AND SEX!!!"

Oh, and yes, I'm sure my oxytocin levels have been low for most of my life because of my history.



Well, it's good to hear I'm not the only one. You sure would think so in the town where I live. Can't seem to get out of here either.

I'm almost stuck these days. Still looking for a partner who is interested in healing and bonding at depth. I was first told that the warmth of a sleeping partner alone would be good for me 5 years ago, but my success in connecting with people who share that understanding and have a similar need has been really weak. It seems that almost no-one I know or meet around here is interested in any practical way in love, bonding and health. They're into passion, money, staying together and/or making babies. I don't get it.

I totally get your comment Sapphire about wanting love. The little boy in me still feels very much like its a do or die thing. My body seems to respond accordingly. The anger in me around that unmet need can be intense.

I do meet with a buddy of mine weekly to explore removing the barriers to love within us and between us. It seems fragile at times but it's alive. We've been at it for a year and half now. I occasionally get some healing touch out of it and the rituals we've figured out are quite good. I've been getting monthly massages from a therapist for ages now. I hang out at a tea house once a week that claims to be interested in love. I strongly supported a staff member there as she experimented with tea workshops. I find, however, that their focus on love is really only as deep as their talk. That's about where it stops. I've a long history of looking out for the needs of women (Mama's boy stuff). Started that the day I was born. I still do what I can for women when I see the opportunity. I did a stint of attending every Kirtan (chanting) event I could find (safe warm-hearted mixed social environment). With the summer coming on, those are rare. I also now post poems about love and healing (Including the one by Euripides in Cupid) on a wall in the warehouse where I work part-time (It's a really good workplace with a strong connection to agricultural and social healing). The idea is to support and strengthen the warm heartedness there. I've got a Plenty of Fish site up that talks about wanting to connect with people who share my interest in healing. I'm thinking of maybe setting one up that offers love to people (I'm a little concerned about the wierdness THAT could generate). I'm getting some Journey Work from a practitioner over the phone. I've put out the message that I'm looking for a partner to a local Healing Arts Association group, my doctor, my massage practitioner, my herbal healer, my friends, and anyone else who seems to be at all interested. If all that fails, I may just see if I can hire someone #@!!$%. I wonder how much it would cost to get a healing minded woman to cuddle/sleep with me for 3 weeks? Seems like money and power are the only things that people GET around here and I don't have alot coming in right now. I'm just a little frustrated as you can tell. Smile

So what else do I have to do? Do you know of a mail order healing partner service? Please say yes. I totally get why people go postal.


I'm sorry

You're such a lovely man. Tried online? Might give you a chance to get to know someone slowly...so she doesn't jump your bones right off the bat....

*big hug*


Hi Marnia,

I've done some stuff on-line but haven't had alot of luck. The language around healing seems to be so blatantly absent that I have a hard time communicating. It's like, healing is for paid professionals right? Unfortunately, I haven't heard of any professional cuddle buddies. I'm also extremely sensitive so I pick up on stuff that few people are aware of or even remotely interested in dealing with. It's a challenge in many ways.

I had a really good Journey work session over the phone today. I sense a change. Hopefully it'll manifest in the connections I have around me too. Thanks for your message.



Thanks Marnia

Hi Marnia,

Well, it might just be happening. I've now got two people who are interested in my profile at Plenty of Fish. The first connection is going pretty well. I'll let you know if I ever get a chance to try out the bonding stuff that you mention in this blog.

It's kind of wierd, because I've tried Plenty of Fish before and got absolutely nowhere. The frustration and hurt was just too much. This time I think the Journey work I did is helping. Something has changed. I feel more like I have some influence whereas before I felt like I was at the mercy of very deeply engrained patterns of social relating. Kind of like getting beat up by sex crazed maniacs!

My efforts to heal myself have been incredibly challenging. It's affected every area of my life. My health is very fragile and has been for a long time, the stuff I have to take to keep it stable is risky. The connection to past sexual trauma is clear from many sources. My work has been shakey because of my health. Social connections are challenging to say the least. I've travelled to Europe and Quebec to get support and both weren't adequate given my situation. I've searched on-line and practically every healing modality that has had even the remotest possibility being helpful. So it's not that I haven't been working at it. I've been working very hard on many fronts at once for a long time.

Thanks so much for your help. This blog is particularly helpful because it gives me an idea of what could be helpful and how to approach it without even touching sexual intimacy. Most people seem to go straight to sex and leave the love and healing piece somewhere far behind eating dust (with me in it). There are precious few places like this.

Namaste my good friend.




- List your location in your Reuniting profile. Although Reuniting is not intended to be a dating site, it's still possible that some lurking women might be in your area and might get in touch, or someone might know someone in your area and provide an introduction.
- Create a profile on OKCupid(.com). It's the best of the (free) dating websites I've tried.


"relationships" - EwwwWWWwww! Sex is dumb, Hugs are stupid and I'd rather eat a million worms than ever let anybody touch me EVER again. EWWwwwWWW!

P.S. Come near me I'll kick you! For REAL.

Namaste? Hmmm... ... ... ... ...

Arnold? Journey work? Do you mean by Brandon Bays? If so, I just picked up her book about 2 weeks ago...but have been wanting to get my hands on it for a while now. I'm almost done reading it. Hoping to heal health issues of my own... and sorry to hear of your fragile health... I'm in the same boat... You used Namaste? My coach uses that word. Thanks for 'hearing' me... by the way I 'see' you.

Daffy :)

Journey work

Hi Daffy,

"Arnold" is the name I use here. It's somewhat of a joke to me because I used it as a healing routine at a meditative healing community in the Netherlands in 2005. I was attempting to get into the shoes of Arnold Schwarznegger. If you knew me, you'd know it's about as far from my personality and body physique as you can get, hence healing for me to explore and embrace.

I've a friend who trained in Journey Work (www.thejourney.com, yes its Brandon Bays stuff) a while back and used me and a bunch of my friends for part of her practicum. I was impressed. Its similar to NLP but my experience is that the spiritual connection is stronger. I've done a few "journeys" and they have been very helpful. I'm pretty sure it's had a strong and positive effect on my immune system. I'm still trying to figure that out. Work in progress. It certainly had a very strong and very positive effect on key relationships in my life including my connection to my mother.

I sometimes use "Namaste" as a greeting. I've belonged to spiritual communities of an enlightened master in the past and we used the associated hand gesture all the time to greet each other. It has a very tender, loving, grateful, warm hearted feel to it for me. It's difficult to do the feeling justice with words but "Namaste" is as close as I can get.

All the best as you continue to heal yourself. I do know what that's like. Marnia's work has been a tremendous support to me as I continue to work on healing the deepest wounds in me. She's given me a vision of what things could be like in intimate relations with the opposite sex and why things go so badly when we're not fully embracing a shared conscious, healing purpose. Much of my healing process involves finding ways to stay clear of the "Battle of the sexes", heal severe childhood wounding in me as a result of that battle in my parents' lives, and undo the disappointment and despair related to past relationship disasters.

Thanks for seeing me. Smile


Hi Arnold.

Journey work. I can't tell you how much I want to do/find out more about Journey Work. !!!!!

It's been an interest of mine for about 2 years now. But while I had an opportunity to work with a coach free of charge back then, I didn't have the money to read the book that he wanted me to and I didn't have the means for ordering it on line which is the only place it was available for me until now.

I just moved and I am in a new place and when I looked around the first day I was here I saw a book store and THERE WERE THE BOOKS! So THOSE were the ones I got. It was actually not a book store it was a spiritual center library so I got them on LOAN!!!

Then you are talking about this while I am reading them now. I want to learn NLP too and...

I wish I could meet an enlightened master. As far as "Namaste" goes... YES ...very beautifully expressive hand gestures... very beautiful and yes the word doesn't do it justice.

I've noticed some themes with people in the world... and with myself... and that is why I say "Wishing You Well" all the time. I suppose it also could be conveyed with the hand gesture... because after all if we're the SAME then why on earth would we want to do anything OTHER than wish each other well... and it's because others see themselves as separate ...that they wouldn't, in fact.
"Much of my healing process involves finding ways to stay clear of the "Battle of the sexes", heal severe childhood wounding in me as a result of that battle in my parents' lives, and undo the disappointment and despair related to past relationship disasters."

(I have) Much respect for your journey...



Thanks Daffy Smile


PS: I've heard that there is a place where people can sign up to be available to Journey work trainees to serve as test clients for them as part of their practicum for free. If you want, I'll see if I can track down how that might work for you.

Rebalancing for people with a history of trauma

Hi Marnia,

Here are a couple of methods that a person can pursue alone or with people that might interest people with a history of abuse and find the concept of working with a partner overwhelming. Perhaps they could be a gentle way to work up to facing the fears associated with intimacy. Like Karezza, they have a strong foundation in body awareness.

1. Trauma Releasing Exercises: https://traumaprevention.com/

2. Peter Levine's approach to healing trauma: https://www.soundstrue.com/store/healing-trauma-4188.html

I hope you find this of interest and helpful.