Monday, February 13, 2012

As is the usual thing, the latest fad in autism therapies has frightening features

Yong, Ed (2012) Dark side of the love hormone. New Scientist. February 8th 2012 Issue 2851 p.39-41.


Second Summit said...

I wish I could read the article, but the link says I must be a member. Could you give us a sentence about what this 'latest fad' is so I might google the info?

Lili Marlene said...

Hmmm, I'm sure there was more of that article to see before. I've had a look at the article in the hardcopy mag, and its about the hormone oxytocin, which is currently being researched in lots of trials as a potential "treatment" of autism. Oxytocin is thought to promote "empathy", and autistics are thought to lack empathy, and there has been much hype about oxytocin as a possible "cure" of autism. There are many problems with this idea. Firstly, I don't think an effect has been demonstrated beyond doubt, secondly, negative unempathetic effects of oxytocin have been observed in research, such as xenophobia, thirdly, many people object to the idea that a lack of empathy is a characteristic or a core feature of autism, so there may be no empathy deficit to treat, and lastly the concept of empathy has not been adequately defined or thought through by the researchers who are so excited about it. The negative effects of oxytocin could be a clue about the real nature of empathy - as a very limited bonding phenomenon rather than a universal benevolence or an elevated level of understanding of the minds and feelings of others.

No, sorry, I can't just give you a sentence.