Science News November 13, 2009
. . . The findings show that those participants who inhaled the "hormone of love" [oxytocin] displayed higher levels of envy when the opponent won more money and of gloating when they were ahead. Another interesting result was that as soon as the game was over, no differences between the participants were evident with regards to these sentiments. This indicates that the negative feelings were empowered only in the course of the game itself.
"Following the earlier results of experiments with oxytocin, we began to examine the possible use of the hormone as a medication for various disorders, such as autism. The results of the present study show that the hormone's undesirable effects on behavior must be examined before moving ahead," Dr. Shamay-Tsoory concludes.
One Dog Night: Barking at the Moon
To make a completely wild extrapolation from the words from Science News (above): competetion increases envy and gloating and contributes to isolation and loneliness.
This extrapolation, while wild, is the undercurrent in most of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman , whose original title was In His Head, a nice irony for the brain science proponents who believe love, bonding and social feelings are stimulated by the hormone oxytocsin.
Salesman was considered un-American during the Red-scare, anti-communist 1950's because it critiqued, if not demolished "The American Dream" (work hard and get ahead) as a sham if not a lie.
As Willy Loman articulates it, screaming at his boss Howard Wagner as he is being fired in Act II, "I put thirty-four years into this firm Howard. You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away. A man is not a piece of fruit."
As we all know from the great Recession of the last year and the shocking double-digit unemployment rate: You certainly CAN throw the peel away. Just ask General Motors dealers.
Over Willy Loman's grave in Death of a Salesman his son Happy unwittingly defines Willy's cerebral prison: "He had the only dream you can have--to come out number one man."
"One is the loneliest number you can ever do," as Three Dog Night sings.
Earlier in the play 63-year-old Willy Loman tells his son's boyhood friend, Bernard, now a successful lawyer, "I got no one to talk to Bernard." Later he tell's Bernard's father, Charlie. "You're the only friend I got, Charlie. Isn't that remarkable"
It's not remarkable at all, Willy.
A survey several years ago of American men revealed that 80% of American men admitted they were lonely.
Striving to be number one is a recipe guaranteeing loneliness: for there can only be ONE "number one", dummy.
Go bark at the moon, men.
"One is the loneliest number you can ever do."