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Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Big Love Dilemma

June 2, 2011 Oxytocin and Sex, Oxytocin In The News No Comments

Tulsa, OK – Big Love, the hit Showtime series about a fictional fundamentalist Mormon husband and his three families living side by side, may not have been exactly what the Terminator was trying to accomplish but biology says there are some similarities.

Many would say that the Terminator’s most recent exploits to hit the media regarding his long-time mistress and love child was nothing more than testosterone driven selfishness, yet neuroscience may prove those assumptions wrong.

Neuroeconomist Paul Zak, one of the world’s leading researchers of the love hormone known as oxytocin says, “Testosterone inhibits the action of oxytocin and, my experiments have shown, makes men both more selfish and more entitled.  Testosterone also makes men take more risk.”  And so we know that obviously the Terminator has a high amount of testosterone, says Zak, “Given Arnold’s physique, his testosterone is clearly high (and he might be taking supplemental testosterone to combat aging), but testosterone also rises when our social status goes up, like when one earns $15M to star in a movie. “

So does this mean the Terminator is just a sex-driven, testosterone fueled narcissist?

Not exactly. According to Anthropologist and author, Helen Fisher there are three types of bonding related to sex and sometimes they occur in stages: There’s the sex drive, linked in both males and females to that infamous hormone testosterone. After testosterone which initiates lust, there comes romantic love, triggered by a brain chemical called dopamine. And finally there’s that deep, persistent feeling of attachment, governed by a pair of pituitary gland hormones: oxytocin and vasopressin. Think of this passionate trio as lust, love, and longing, respectively.”

According to science, oxytocin and vasopressin are two very strong motivating hormones that define the Terminator’s behavior. Oxytocin is primarily responsible for initiating the bonding process that leads to long term relationships. Vasopressin, the sister hormone to oxytocin and more dominant in men, is attributed to protection of one’s clan.

Given a lengthy relationship, if a man is even remotely emotionally and psychologically healthy, his brain will respond accordingly. He will want to take care of his family even if that includes members that may not be a part of what society deems the traditional family. It’s easy to say, “Oh his behavior is so creepy,” or “He should have set her up in a house somewhere,” but our neurochemistry can also lead us to make choices that, though not socially or sometimes even morally popular, are consistent with our evolutionary behavior.

No doubt the Terminator is a sex machine but aren’t we all? Some just focus better than others!

Though we skewer Schwarzenegger in the media for his actions, the truth is that he did not forgo his responsibilities but rather went through significant efforts to take care of the housekeeper and their love child.

Truth is biology does matter. Testosterone and dopamine created the drive for the affair to occur and oxytocin and vasopressin maintained it.  

Let’s be clear, biology is not an excuse for behavior but it is a driving factor.

Bryan Post is the managing editor for http://www.oxytocincentral.com and a clinical consultant for http://abcnutriceuticals.com

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