Biological Benefits of Companionship

As a followup to my blog post last month on the importance of companionship, I was reminded of Gale Berkowitz’s article “1998 study on Friendship Among Women.” The study conducted by Dr. Laura Cousino Klein and fellow researcher Dr. Shelley Taylor, found that women have another response to stress in addition to fight or flight. They found that oxytocin is released during a woman’s response to stress, and the calming effect of this hormone encourages her to “tend and befriend” which, when acted upon, in turn releases more of the calming oxytocin. I found this quote from Ruthellen Josselson in Berkowitz’s article to be especially meaningful:

Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women,” explains Dr. Josselson.  “We push them right to the back burner. That’s really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other.  We nurture one another.  And we need to have unpressured 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.”


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