Random Thoughts: Dopamine, The Alpha Drug

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On a recent Roissy thread, Aoefe wondered if she might be a high T woman (I surmised that she was not). In formulating my reply (in moderation as I type) I became inspired to write this post, something I have had at the back of my mind for a long while.

It seems axiomatic in the PUAsphere that testosterone is the wonder drug that puts the Alpha in Alpha male. While I do not doubt testosterone’s usefulness to the Alpha male, I believe there is a more important substance. Indeed, I believe that dopamine is the true alpha drug.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that drives sensation and pleasure seeking. It is the neurotransmitter of extraversion and aggression. While testosterone creates the drive for status, dominance, and winning, it is dopamine that allows a man achieve these things. It is dopamine that creates the hedonistic, pleasure seeking bad boy. It is dopamine that creates the extraverted, social, charmer. It is dopamine that creates the competitive, aggressive corporate hard-charger.

Testosterone may help build the alpha body (lean muscle mass, greater strength, masculized features), it is dopamine the helps build the alpha brain.

The majority of men will have enough testosterone to remain healthy males. Lower levels may turn some into “hard gainers” in the weight room, or easy gainers round their gut, but lack of testosterone is unlikely to be the cause of most men’s beta status (or at least will not be the major cause).

Testosterone can also bring a cost, as it magnifies the hurt felt by a loss of status. A high testosterone man that loses, or is unable to obtain, status, may be worse off than his lower T brother. The lower testosterone man may feel the loss less intensely because his lower levels reduce status anxiety.

When you are on the alpha prowl, it is good to have your testosterone (who wants to be a girly man?), but don’t forget to pack your dopamine.

Notes

I guess that high dopamine women would be the flirty and friendly type. Their estrogen would cause more affiliation (friendship) seeking rather than domination (status) seeking.

There is no doubt that very low levels of testosterone may lead to the herbish type behavior/attitude/look that is the butt of so many harsh PUA comments. However, I doubt that white knighting/mangina behavior has any connection with testosterone levels (indeed, if anything, chivalry – even if misguided – is more likely to be positively related to T). Also white knighting/mangina behavior could be considered status seeking. That said, the Conscious Men types (I refuse to link to them) may have less testosterone than your average grandmother.

Because I love speculating theories: I wonder how much brain chemistry drives personality. Using the Myers-Briggs lens, I suspect that higher dopamine might be more common in xSxP (sensation/action seeking) and xxTJ (decision/competition seeking). Lower dopamine types might be xNTP (theorizers *cough*) and xNFP (dreamers).

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