Louis Cozolino

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Louis John Cozolino (April 16, 1953) is an American psychologist and professor of psychology at Pepperdine University. He holds degrees in philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, theology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UCLA. He has conducted empirical research in schizophrenia, the long-term impact of stress, and child abuse. Cozolino has published numerous articles,[1] seven books,[2] and maintains a clinical and consulting practice in Los Angeles.[3]

The social brain[edit]

Cozolino's more recent writings focus on the evolution of the human brain into a social organ and the ways in which brains connect to attune, communicate, and regulate one another. He uses the term "sociostasis" to describe how we have evolved to regulate each other's metabolic activation, emotions, and behavior.

The social synapse[edit]

Cozolino introduced the concept of the social synapse, the medium through which we are linked together into larger organisms such as families, tribes, societies and the human species as a whole. "Gaze, pupil dilation, facial expressions, posture, proximity, touch, and mirror systems are all reflexive and obligatory systems that work below conscious awareness. These and other systems yet to be discovered create a high-speed information linkup between us, establishing ongoing physiological and emotional synchrony."[4]


Cozolino uses the term sociostasis to describe the reciprocal influence individuals have on one another as they regulate each other's biology, psychology, and states of mind across the social synapse. It is an expansion of the way Murray Bowen described the emotional homeostasis that exists within families that influences separation and individuation.

Social status schema[edit]

In his book Why Therapy Works, Cozolino proposed his theory of social status schema. This theory proposes that we are programmed early in life, via emotional experience he calls core shame, to act as alphas or betas in social groups. Core shame results in a deep insecurity about speaking up or being too visible in groups which makes us easy to lead by those who behave as alphas. Cozolino says that while psychologists most often interpret shame as the result of early negative life experiences, he suggests that core shame may be a psychological consequence of a deeper biological strategy of natural selection to organize us into a group hierarchy with a higher probability of survival.

The neuroscience of psychotherapy[edit]

In The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy, Cozolino synthesizes the field of psychotherapy with findings from neurology, neuroscience, and neurochemistry to provide a model for the underlying mechanisms of action in the therapeutic process. He describes four key principles for enhancing neuroplasticity in the human brain/mind complex: secure relationships, a low to moderate level of physiological arousal, a balance of emotional and cognitive processing, and the construction of coherent narratives about the self, relationships, and the world.


  • (2002): The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Building and Rebuilding the Human Brain', ' WW Norton & Company, New York.
  • (2004): The Making of a Therapist: A Practical Guide for the Inner Journey, WW Norton & Company, New York, W W Norton page.
  • (2006): The Neuroscience of Human Relationships: Attachment and the Developing Social Brain., WW Norton & Company, New York. W W Norton page
  • (2008): The Healthy Aging Brain: Sustaining Attachment, Attaining Wisdom, WW Norton & Company, New York. W W Norton page
  • (2010): "The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy, 2nd edition, Healing the Social Brain", WW Norton & Company, New York. W W Norton page
  • (2012): "The Neuroscience of Human Relationships: 2nd Edition, Attachment and the Developing Social Brain.", WW Norton & Company, New York.
  • (2013): "The Social Neuroscience of Education: Optimizing Attachement & Learning in the Classroom", WW Norton & Company, New York. W W Norton page
  • (2014): "Attachment-Based Teaching", WW Norton & Company, New York.
  • (2015): "Why Therapy Works: Using Your Mind to Change Your Brain", WW Norton & Company, New York.