Fearfully and wonderfully made…
The San Francisco Chronicle recently informed me that the blood of autistic kids (autism being a diagnosis currently skyrocketing around the Bay Area) tends to show an inadequate level of immunity. The article I read made no philosophical reflection on that fact, made no attempt to point out a psychological parallel of the autistic person’e2’80’99s lack of immunity to the merciless stimulation of the world around them, but the parallel is there.
However, it connects’e2’80’94somewhat indirectly, I know, but this is a blog, not a graduate essay (hi, Zoe! now get back to work) ‘e2’80’94with a book I read recently by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, called ANIMALS IN TRANSLATION. Grandin is an autistic woman who has become a renowned expert in animal behavior. The book is fascinating not simply because of the insight into the way animals think, but because she is a person who treats animals and human beings with precisely the same attitude. A born Buddhist.
Anyway, she talks (page 106) about the hormone oxytocin. Nursing mothers know oxytocin, or its manufactured substitute syntocin, as the hormone that stimulates the let-down of milk. Without the let-down, the infant would starve, but it is also a pleasurable experience for the mother, since it does double duty as one of the hormones of sexuality.
Grandin writes, ‘e2’80’9cOxytocin is essential to social memory: oxytocin is the hormone that lets animals remember each other.’e2’80’9d Patting a dog raises the oxytocin level in both dog and person; it ties together the two species for their mutual benefit. Oxytocin also kicks in a physiological boost for the act of motherhood, and for the state of monogamy.
God, truly, is in the details.