About Writers and their Neurochemistry
Underlying who we are, what we do and how we do it, is our neurochemistry. It makes for interesting cogitation (a big word for ‘reflection’ which I only recently learned) to analyse writers and their writing, based on two neurochemicals, dopamine and oxytocin.
Dopamine is the stuff underlying motivation, reward gratification, working memory (thought) and achievement. So the dopamine writer is one that derives reward gratification from the motivation to create something of value, then experiences the sense of achievement in the finished text. Thereafter comes the bigger dopamine kicker – the acknowledgement and praise by others - the accolades. So what I’ve written so far is a dopamine-driven piece. The dopamine surge will be completed if and when it’s ‘liked’ and appreciated. Thereafter the dopamine surge will drive me to repeat the process. Perhaps I’m adequately gratified just by creating the piece or perhaps I need the accolades. And if it’s for the accolades then maybe I’ll modify my style to suite the zeitgeist of the readership to get more accolades and gratification next time. But then there would be a potential threat to ultimate authenticity in this dopamine cycle.
And what of the oxytocin-driven writer? Oxytocin is secreted in association with empathy, sensitivity, gratitude, trust, belief and awe. And so the oxytocin writer produces a life narrative with the ingredients of these elements which we all share, but some writers are more versed in its expression than others. So the skilful oxytocin writer draws you into the narrative through resonation with the aforementioned elements. In so doing, your oxytocin levels rise through the triggering of your mirror neuron activity (don’t worry about this. I just put it in for completeness-sake!) ‘And there he was alone in the world. Around him, the devastation of what was. And it was at this low moment that ....’ Gotcha! Your oxytocin levels are bubbling in sympathy with the narrative.
The oxytocin writer derives dopamine gratification from creating the text as well as from the accolades. In addition however, the genuine oxytocin writer derives an oxytocin high from creating the good feeling of empathy, sensitivity, gratitude and awe in the readership. But oxytocin secretion and its reflective traits are contagious – it has a knock on effect. We all want to hug each other! Empathy and gratitude flow. It's a good thing - oxytocin promotes wellness. (For more on the wellness benefits of oxytocin, see https://www.bebee.com/producer/@ian-weinberg/evolution-and-empathy )
Maybe that’s why I appreciate beBee. It created space for us dopamine guys who have difficulty preparing the oxytocin stuff but who relish the great human oxytocin-driven posts written by the skilled, that regularly appear. Hell, I think I just wrote an oxytocin-promoting bit! Where there’s life there’s hope.
Copyright reserved - Ian Weinberg 2016