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Why the 'love hormone' may be the key to healthy relationships of all kinds

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posted on Jun, 27 2016 @ 01:34 AM
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From: mnn mother nature network

By Jenn Savedge
22 June 2016
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Original source:
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www.pnas.org...
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Title: "Epigenetic modification of OXT and human sociability"
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Abstract:
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Across many mammalian species there exist genetic and biological systems that facilitate the tendency to be social. Oxytocin is a neuropeptide involved in social-approach behaviors in humans and others mammals. Although there exists a large, mounting body of evidence showing that oxytocin signaling genes are associated with human sociability, very little is currently known regarding the way the structural gene for oxytocin (OXT) confers individual differences in human sociability.
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In this study, we undertook a comprehensive approach to investigate the association between epigenetic modification of OXT via DNA methylation, and overt measures of social processing, including self-report, behavior, and brain function and structure. Genetic data were collected via saliva samples and analyzed to target and quantify DNA methylation across the promoter region of OXT.
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We observed a consistent pattern of results across sociability measures. People that exhibit lower OXT DNA methylation (presumably linked to higher OXT expression) display more secure attachment styles, improved ability to recognize emotional facial expressions, greater superior temporal sulcus activity during two social-cognitive functional MRI tasks, and larger fusiform gyrus gray matter volume than people that exhibit higher OXT DNA methylation.
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These findings provide empirical evidence that epigenetic modification of OXT is linked to several overt measures of sociability in humans and serve to advance progress in translational social neuroscience research toward a better understanding of the evolutionary and genetic basis of normal and abnormal human sociability. [extra paragraphing added by BoX for easier reading]

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www.mnn.com...
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In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers identified the gene that may affect social behavior. The gene is called the OXT gene and it's the one responsible for producing oxytocin, aka the love hormone. Previous research has found women release high levels of oxytocin during childbirth, and both men and women release the hormone during sex and contact with loved ones. The new research looked at how different levels of oxytocin in the body affected a person's social behavior.
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The team found that participants with low OXT gene activity had the most difficulty identifying emotions using facial cues. They were also the most likely to express concerns about their own relationships. In the brain, researchers found that volunteers with the least amount of oxytocin also had less gray matter in the part of the brain that controls processing of social behaviors.
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I think it is a very telling finding that "volunteers with the least amount of oxytocin also had less gray matter in the part of the brain that controls processing of social behaviors.
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That is one of the specific areas of the brain that is literally brain damaged by RAD--ATTACHMENT DISORDER.
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It is reasonable to hypothesize that it is the brain damage caused by RAD that is at least AS MUCH responsible for the resulting deficit in relational capacities and skills as MIGHT be attributable to DNA. As increasing research has been documenting for some time--there is the DNA substrate . . . and then there are the EPIGENETIC FACTORS that turn a gene on or off from being EXPRESSED. Certainly RAD influences at least some of those epigentic factors.
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And, as we know from brain plasticity studies, as long as there's life, there's hope. THE BRAIN CAN, LARGELY, BE REWIRED. The individual can be TAUGHT, TRAINED to be more socially skilled, aware, sensitive, etc. For some, it might be a longer struggle than others. But it is possible.
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posted on Jun, 27 2016 @ 01:40 AM
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I misread it at first as Oxycontin
. Started to wonder where this was going.

Interesting read, could be beneficial for those with social anxiety disorders.



posted on Jun, 27 2016 @ 01:46 AM
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a reply to: BO XIAN

bookmarking now to review later. As always, keep on posting interesting things



posted on Jun, 27 2016 @ 02:42 AM
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I have seen some men on MRA sites consider Oxytocin like the weapon and trap of women... LOL

Long ago, my husband described something he could pick up in people right away, in which he sensed they didn't get enough love when they were growing up.

Now, this sparked a lengthy debate/discussion on "what love is" exactly.

We have ways of speaking of love in terms of our own subjective experience, you can feel love for someone inside, or know that someone loves you, even if they don't outwardly show it.

He is very tactile, very physical and sensual, so for him, love is a verb. -And not necessarily sex (as my american puritan mind will jump to) but any kind of touch, smiling, direct positive attention and affection. To him, it doesn't matter what you feel or know inside if you aren't expressing it somehow for the other to feel.

The result of this conversation was the first time I considered that I was not loved enough in my childhood.
My mother had a blockage and could not touch us (affectionately, though apparently had no trouble hitting, kicking or pulling hair....LOL!), dad was absent. But I coped with that early on by choosing to perceive she loved me, but she just had problems showing it; problems that preceded my birth and ultimately had nothing to do with me.

So intellectually, I always carried around a belief that I was loved, and that appearences are not trustworthy gauges of reality.

But seeing it from my husbands point of view (and the fact that he sensed this about me too, when he met me) put it all into a different perspective- in which love is something very concrete, measurable. That actually brought me down to earth in other ways as well, considering that no, it is not always "what is inside" that matters.

It doesn't much matter what the other feels inside about you if none of that oxytocin-stirring exchange is happening.

You will still end up being a socially retarded person like me if that sort of exchange doesn't happen.

I wonder if studies have shown whether or not you can develop more of that part of the brain which deals with social behavior, later on in life?

There's also the question of - if a person gets this sort of stimulation from only one person early on, instead of numerous ones (family and friends) does that provoke certain problems with attachment? Like not moving beyond into the multiple attachment development that happens after about one year of age.

I suspect it does, because you can see the problems of some people who simply are able to nurture one fusional type relationship, but not others at the same time. I've seen my eldest son has problems of this type, and when he was a toddler I as a student living alone, and though I was very attentive with him, we never saw other people. I did not have friends (as everyone my age was doing the college-party thing) and my family was not present. He didn't develop enough multiple attachments at that time.
He doesn't seem to be able, now, to nurture numerous relationships at a time.

If we look at it from the oxytocin angle, one could get programmed to become focused on only one source of oxytocin-provoking exchange for most of their life.
edit on 27-6-2016 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)

edit on 27-6-2016 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)

edit on 27-6-2016 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 27 2016 @ 04:56 AM
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a reply to: Bluesma



We have ways of speaking of love in terms of our own subjective experience, you can feel love for someone inside, or know that someone loves you, even if they don't outwardly show it. He is very tactile, very physical and sensual, so for him, love is a verb.

-And not necessarily sex (as my american puritan mind will jump to) but any kind of touch, smiling, direct positive attention and affection. To him, it doesn't matter what you feel or know inside if you aren't expressing it somehow for the other to feel.


I think you made some really good point of how love can come in different form of manifestation and exists on different levesl. To an extreme empath/telepath the separation between him/her and the ones he/she love becomes diffuse. There is only one real unit us (duality separation gone).

There is energetic love that exists even if a person do not bodily show what is within that can be felt by a body. Heat/cold/tingle manifested in your body since you are in their field or because they are using their field to energize your body.

I do believe Oxytocin is part of the equation. There is another substance in the brain that is not allowed to be named on this site that is also part of the equation. It would not surprise me if microtubules in the cell is also part of the equation.

You can also be a human who are put off by the majority of humans since they do not create the level of connection you require. Having a soul totally relaxed/resting/sleeping making happy noises is the best.
edit on 27-6-2016 by LittleByLittle because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 27 2016 @ 05:51 AM
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THANKS THANKS for one of the best replies I've ever received online in 30 years.


originally posted by: Bluesma
I have seen some men on MRA sites consider Oxytocin like the weapon and trap of women... LOL


Sorry, I don't know what MRA sites are.

I could believe that some men think that Oxytocin is a weapon and trap of women. LOL. But I don't think they are being all that logical about such fears! The Oxytocin has to be triggered by something.

Sure, the woman's own ideations could be triggering it. But what is triggering her ideations if it's not something about the man--real or fantasized?




Long ago, my husband described something he could pick up in people right away, in which he sensed they didn't get enough love when they were growing up.


Now that really fascinates me. Perhaps you'd be willing to ask him to do his best at articulating what all specific cues there must be that he is picking up on? Be they facial expression, body language, eyes, tone of voice, body carriage, openness to others vs closedness to others; etc???



Now, this sparked a lengthy debate/discussion on "what love is" exactly.

We have ways of speaking of love in terms of our own subjective experience, you can feel love for someone inside, or know that someone loves you, even if they don't outwardly show it.


That issue has long been a real . . . something . . . to me . . . from before my PhD to the present. I've had tons of folks--particularly men--but both men and women to a significant degree . . . say something along the lines:

"Dad never said he loved me a single time in his entire life but I knew he loved me because he worked so hard to put food on the table for us."

Yes and no.

Yes, there's a measure of truth to it. And, for many men reared with a huge degree of RAD (Attachment Disorder), that's the only thing they knew to do to demonstrate their caring for their family members. And, mercifully, some kids, even, could kind of understand & accept that, to a degree.

HOWEVER, That's not how human beings are made--as the OP research demonstrates . . . and as a LOT of RAD research has demonstrated.

WHEN there is a lack of a more or less daily present, healthily affectionate, tuned-in, bonded, attentively focused loving DAD emotionally available and CONNECTED to each child, then those children WILL GROW OLDER with BRAIN DAMAGE as MRI studies have shown conclusively.

And one of the areas that damage will be in is the same area discussed in the OP. The area managing relationships. The other area will be the area that manages expression of emotions.

The OP seems to affirm that part of that mixture of brain damage and less than optimally functioning relationships has to do with the expression of Oxytocin in the brain as a function of close, connected loving relationships or the lack thereof.

What the OP study did not address, evidently, is whether the OXT gene expression of Oxytocin was blunted after birth at the epigenetic level or whether there was a genetic defect in the gene before birth. My bias and hunch would be that the problem occurred at the epigenetic level after birth--that RAD essentially turned the gene off or at least down to a low volume output of Oxytocin--regardless of subsequent relational triggers that in healthier people would foster a lot of Oxytocin being released.




He is very tactile, very physical and sensual, so for him, love is a verb. -And not necessarily sex (as my american puritan mind will jump to) but any kind of touch, smiling, direct positive attention and affection. To him, it doesn't matter what you feel or know inside if you aren't expressing it somehow for the other to feel.


Again . . . I'm intensely fascinated and would love to pick his brain some more as well as yours as his spouse. I wholesale agree with his perspective.

In my experience and observations, IF THERE IS NO OR DIMINISHED EXPRESSION OF THE LOVE, THEN THERE IS SOME MEASURE AND/OR QUALITY OF LOVE THAT IS SIMPLY LACKING, MISSING, NOT THERE.

Maybe the RAD afflicted person says in their head that they must love XYZ person because that person is their spouse, friend, child etc. So they do the somewhat dutiful thing of acting as loving as they know how. But the glowing furnace of affection (not necessarily sex at all) . . . that glowing furnace of affection toward the other is simply not there or not very glowingly there.

I strongly believe that in EVERY case like that, there was some significant degree of RAD. And that degree of RAD left a lasting impact on their brain and on all their relationships--over the whole of their life, if they did not work hard to work that crap through--most probably with professional help but at least with 1-3 other very demonstrably loving persons.

I believe that impact shows up in dozens of subtle and not so subtle ways. Sensitive and observant people can pick up on those cues.

to be continued.


edit on 27/6/2016 by BO XIAN because: tags



posted on Jun, 27 2016 @ 06:12 AM
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a reply to: BO XIAN

Continued:


I was at a Chinese restaurant with friends yesterday. At an adjacent table for 6 were a father, mother, son on the opposite side, facing us. On the near side evidently were the mother's father and mother--sitting with an empty chair between them.

The father (facing us) appeared to be a pretty macho bloke. He seemed mostly focused on the mother's father sitting opposite him. The mother seemed to be fairly bold and talkative. She probably said 65-75% of the words said at the table.

The son was about 10-12 years old and appeared to be a rather NON-macho sensitive sort. He seemed contented enough but was mostly in his own world with occasional words to mother or maybe grandmother.

Grandmother appeared to be an older version of talkative mother. The mother was not brash, per se but not a wall flower either.

My impression from all this was that the son was going to be in trouble. He likely did not have nor feel the dad's serious or intense love and affection--if it was there, at all.

He seemed to be managing at that age with what appeared to be mother's caring and understanding. But as he grew into his teens, that would be inadequate, if it ever was adequate. He will not know who or what he is as a man because of an inadequate connection with, identification with Dad.

In terms of the OP, I'd bet that his Oxytocin production is blunted already. It may be partially functioning in his relationship with his mother. But that's just part of life as a son, man. If he has not received and exchanged more of that Oxytocin thrill between he and dad, then he doesn't know internally his value as a son, a man. Those messages on those channels have been non-existent to weak, imho.

Anyway--back to your great reply:
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The result of this conversation was the first time I considered that I was not loved enough in my childhood.
My mother had a blockage and could not touch us (affectionately, though apparently had no trouble hitting, kicking or pulling hair....LOL!), dad was absent. But I coped with that early on by choosing to perceive she loved me, but she just had problems showing it; problems that preceded my birth and ultimately had nothing to do with me.


That was probably a very merciful and redemptive CHOICE on your part. Many are not up to making such a mature and redemptive choice. I'd say most are not. They can tell themselves that in their heads all the live long day but they don't believe it and the impact on their lives is devastating.

Basically, frankly, you were abused by your mother in 2 ways: 1. Physically you were battered and likely for no good reason most of the time--it was her taking out her frustrations, angers, angst in life on you. 2. You were abused/neglected by not receiving from her that which every child needs from their mother--warm nurturing affectionate demonstrations of sacrificial, unconditional love.

You seem to have overcome mightily. But I'm sure your husband could articulate ways in which it has been obvious to him that you had/have significant RAD.

I would GUESS that it has taken him considerable time and effort to help you learn the affectionate dance in all it's breadths and depths (not just sexually). Perhaps that's stating it more bleakly than has been the case. PERHAPS your decision that your mother loved you regardless was a deep and intense enough conviction that your RAD was not as significant as the level of abuse would otherwise normally have produced.

I'd love to know which of my above conjectures are more accurate and which more off the wall.



So intellectually, I always carried around a belief that I was loved, and that appearences are not trustworthy gauges of reality.


That's an incredibly mature accommodation of your early life experiences. Congrats.

Certainly appearances are not trustworthy gauges of reality--strictly speaking. But neither are they totally irrelevant! They do carry information and that information is varying degrees of accurate, congruent with reality in each relationship and context.



But seeing it from my husbands point of view (and the fact that he sensed this about me too, when he met me) put it all into a different perspective- in which love is something very concrete, measurable. That actually brought me down to earth in other ways as well, considering that no, it is not always "what is inside" that matters.

It doesn't much matter what the other feels inside about you if none of that oxytocin-stirring exchange is happening.

You will still end up being a socially retarded person like me if that sort of exchange doesn't happen.


ABSOLUTELY INDEED



I wonder if studies have shown whether or not you can develop more of that part of the brain which deals with social behavior, later on in life?


Given what we've learned about the capacity of even older brains to grow new neural pathways--I'd say yes, it is possible. But it takes more work the older we get. And there's just no substitute for at least a few intensely loving relationships that are demonstrably so day in and day out over some years.



There's also the question of - if a person gets this sort of stimulation from only one person early on, instead of numerous ones (family and friends) does that provoke certain problems with attachment? Like not moving beyond into the multiple attachment development that happens after about one year of age.

I suspect it does, because you can see the problems of some people who simply are able to nurture one fusional type relationship, but not others at the same time. I've seen my eldest son has problems of this type, and when he was a toddler I as a student living alone, and though I was very attentive with him, we never saw other people. I did not have friends (as everyone my age was doing the college-party thing) and my family was not present. He didn't develop enough multiple attachments at that time.
He doesn't seem to be able, now, to nurture numerous relationships at a time.

If we look at it from the oxytocin angle, one could get programmed to become focused on only one source of oxytocin-provoking exchange for most of their life.


That's an interesting question. I don't recall studies per se but certainly what you describe is plenty common.

I would say that the RAD is serious enough to severely blunt the brain and learning of such skills and dynamics. Yet, there is the one person that it clicks with. It is as though the individual never got their love buckets filled ENOUGH to let go of mommy's apron strings and really VENTURE OUT into the sea of potential loving connections and interactions.

He may not still be attached per se to mommy in a little boy way. But he's not strayed far from that dynamic. He's just traded a spouse for mommy.

I think both my dads were that way--to the degree that they could experience Oxytocin levels of love at all.

They could learn to at this late stage . . . but it would take concentrated effort over at least months and some very loving people teaching your son 'the dance.'

I'll stop there. I could write on this topic for many hours and I'm in the middle of my sleep cycle. LOL.

edit on 27/6/2016 by BO XIAN because: added



posted on Jun, 27 2016 @ 08:08 AM
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originally posted by: BO XIAN
THANKS THANKS for one of the best replies I've ever received online in 30 years.


You've been online for 30 years? How's your social behavior holding up? LOL




Long ago, my husband described something he could pick up in people right away, in which he sensed they didn't get enough love when they were growing up.


Now that really fascinates me. Perhaps you'd be willing to ask him to do his best at articulating what all specific cues there must be that he is picking up on? Be they facial expression, body language, eyes, tone of voice, body carriage, openness to others vs closedness to others; etc???



One cue you can look for is this: If you give a member of the opposite sex positive attention......like complimenting, letting them that you appreciate them and respect them, that you don't want to do anything to hurt their feelings, show affection......things along those lines. Things a friend would do. Show then these things and if they seem to gravitate towards you in a way that is taking it a step further than just wanting to be a friend, then you know they're starving for love. A love they didn't get enough of when they were growing up......when they needed it the most. People like that you really have to handle with care, and if you yourself have issues you're working through at the same time, the wires can REALLY get crossed.

Fascinating topic my fellow zonie. You bring some real meat to the table. We need more posters like you here at ATS.



posted on Jun, 27 2016 @ 12:35 PM
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a reply to: DeepImpactX

Excellent points about folks starving for love . . . and the complications that arise if "B" is also working through RAD stuff.

Great insightfulness.

Thanks.

Thanks for your kind words. I started in 1980/81 on Compuserve with the innovative Radioshack--notebook essentially. There was a blind and deaf SYSOP on the largest forum there who was a music proofreader for the braille music stuff filed with the Library of Congress. She was a wonderful gal. She had not been deaf and blind all her life. She was an authentic Christian gal with a tough but sweet personality.

We had a lot of discussions on a lot of topics with folks all across the landscape.

My social life has been plenty rich. I've had more than 3,000 students over 2 continents and I don't know how many counseling clients.

My current social life is blunted because I can't seem to find a very decent, authentic, balanced, loving Bible teaching church with a humble, not very RAD afflicted pastor.

But, I attend a good men's group and have social times with a list of friends as well as the craft/art class at the college where I've audited for more than 12 years. There's a lot of us fossilized old farts in the class. They were very touching when I had my new pacemaker installed.

My students--every last one of them--including a satanist--knew that I literally loved them as individuals. Some of them were frightened because it was the first time they'd experienced such genuine caring so I had to dial it back a bit for them.

Most of my students on both continents soaked it up like the desert a cloud burst.

The shocking thing for me . . . was that in Taiwan, an incredible number of students volunteered to me privately that I loved them more than their parents did. That was an extremely NON-CULTURAL thing to say. The pretense about family love in China is virtually ALWAYS maintained at almost all costs--regardless of the undercurrent and reality.

We may have very conflicted families at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with some members seething under their breath and openly at other family members. Chinese New Years dinners can be worse. But everyone works hard to keep the smooth veneer pretense intact.

Love is Love and it shows. @Bluesma's hubby is really right about that.

Far too often, RAD generated insecurities, pride, selfishness, fears, anger . . . get in the way . . . in every culture . . . in almost every family.

Thankfully, there are still a few families who get it right. And they are shining beacons of how to do relationships in the awful chaos and spreading dark values of modern life. They don't even have any 'teen rebellion' from their teenagers. Individuation, yes. Rebellion, no. The close intimate bond of mutually exchanged Oxytocin enlivened connecteness is lavishly shared.

I just wish I had learned more ways to more effectively help more individuals and families get there.



posted on Jun, 30 2016 @ 01:11 AM
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a reply to: BO XIAN


originally posted by: BO XIAN

Now that really fascinates me. Perhaps you'd be willing to ask him to do his best at articulating what all specific cues there must be that he is picking up on? Be they facial expression, body language, eyes, tone of voice, body carriage, openness to others vs closedness to others; etc???


He has pointed the visible signs out to me, and I realized I recognize these too already, except that I don't pay attention to them. It is a sort of deliberate turning away of focus that I feel is about respecting their personal intimacy. Like when at a nude beach, you just don't look when people lean over to pick up their towels...? Same type of thing.

It is seen in tight lines around the mouth, the edges turned down; droopy eye lids; unhealthy looking complexion, acne; angular body; nervous movements lacking force and conviction; a certain avoidance in regard alternating with a furtive searching of the others eyes...

The subject of paternal love in particular, I am not sure I agree with you on this so far.

Consider that studies find oxytocin can be stimulated by your own thoughts.
It can be stimulated, for example, in a person who believes everyone in the room admires and loves him.

This comes into play in question of religion, for example- people believing there is a God which loves them increase their oxytocin levels. So there is some truth the idea of subjectively being loved.


Perhaps I was stimulating my production of oxytocin with my beliefs in being loved. I now see it is problematic because that is how you form associations between abusive behavior and love, which steers you towards abusive relationships as an adult.
(I still think it was an effective coping mechanism at the time and that I just needed to progressively re-program myself later).

I want to delve into this aspect further but I keep going off on pages and pages....(my dream is to be one of those people who can pack all this thought into a couple short concise sentences, I fear I shall never realize this).

But it makes me think, ideally, we need to have some understanding of both sides of that coin- that what is inside, what you believe about reality and others is just as important as the perception that can be objectively shared between you and others on a physical level.

People can develop too much on one end or the other. My husband took the other direction- he was surrounded by a big family that covered him in affection and attention. Looking within, reflecting upon what he feels or what others feel, he says he just never did that. His attention was always pulled outwards by all that interaction.

It is only because he started developing the ability to analyze his own interior world that he could start explaining to me what it was he was seeing in people.

But he had still developed a subconscious automatic reflex system for social cues and responses. You don't have to intellectually understand to be able to do.

I have to go, sorry I am not responding to all that you said, I can't seem to reign in my thoughts right now.

edit on 30-6-2016 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)



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