Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I recently read an article online about a 'landmark' study on friendship among woman. The UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. Welllll ... Duh!!???!

They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. Oh ... by the way, they may do even more. Scientists now suspect that spending time with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis. The study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women.

"Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible.” "It's an ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers.

Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just "fight or flight." When the hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the "fight or flight" response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect.

"This calming response does not occur in men", says Dr. Klein, "because testosterone, which men produce in high levels when they're under stress, seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen", she adds, "seems to enhance it."

I, for one, don't find this study all that 'remarkable' ... all that these scientists needed to do was talk to a few friends ... and her friends. I've been blessed with friendships that I know have changed my life. I have no doubt that this 'tend and befriend' theory explains why women consistently outlive men. Social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. Our friends are helping us live ... and live longer.

We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressurized space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they're with other women. It's a very healing experience.

* and now if you waded through this article, I might add my own little 'p.s.' ... we women can be so catty and '_itchy' at times, in spite of this 'attribute/fault' ... most of us know that laughter is the glue that holds us together, we feel 'safe' sharing those 'oh, so embarrassing' moments or scary, silly thoughts ... we know a hug (even through cyber-space) can help heal. We reach out to each other, we share, we curse, we laugh, we cry ... we are friends!

1 comment:

Tatersmama said...

Then here's to oxytocin - and long may it live!

I've found that a cyber note or a cyber hug from someone I haven't even met yet, can completely and totally make my day!

Friendship... is not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.
Muhammad Ali