The Need for Touch

The Need for Touch

“Hand over hand
Doesn’t seem so much
Hand over hand
Is the strength of the common touch”-Rush

Humankind needs touch. Not simply in a sexual manner, but in general as well. It helps us connect with one another and the world. Touch is energy. When we touch, we share energy that permeates all nature. That’s why there is so much more to massage, hugs, and other forms of touch that bring energy and even healing to us. The ancients knew this, but modern society has forgotten. We could heal so much of the pain and suffering in the world if we would simply touch more.

We, in the West, have become more fearful of touch. We’ve even come to the point where we believe all touch either has a sexual component to it or is simply bad It’s not, expect when that touch is forced or coerced. Rather, touch is necessary. Humanity cannot survive without touch. Psychological studies have shown what the lack of touch does to a sentient being. Take, for example, the baby monkeys used in psychologist Harry Harlow’s experiments.

In his experiments, he separated rhesus monkey babies from their mothers shortly after birth. He gave them a choice of a “mother” made of bare wire and one of the same bare wire covered with a soft cloth. His experiment first found “that monkeys who had a choice of mothers spent far more time clinging to the terry cloth surrogates, even when their physical nourishment came from bottles mounted on the bare wire mothers”(Herman). He went so far as to make it so that both types of surrogates provided milk, but still noticed that the “Monkeys who had soft, tactile contact behaved quite differently than monkeys whose mothers were made out of cold, hard wire”(Herman). Taking it further, he introduced “strange, loud objects, such as teddy bears beating drums” and found that the “monkeys raised by terry cloth surrogates made bodily contact with their mothers, rubbed against them, and eventually calmed down”, while those raised by the bare wire ones “threw themselves on the floor, clutched themselves, rocked back and forth, and screamed in terror”(Herman). It was the touch that made the difference. A soft, caring touch created a calming and stable effect on the monkeys. He tied the results of these experiments to children in adoption situations versus those in institutionalized situations (Herman).

This was not lost on the Chinese as in many of their orphanages they have connected them to senior living establishments to facilitate touch between the babies and the elderly knowing that both will benefit from touch. While not ideal, it still has a positive effect on babies when it comes to their later adjustment when adopted from the orphanages.

We date, pair with someone or with multiple partners, and marry to experience touch on an intimate level. Without it, relationships and marriages suffer. While the leading cause of divorce is attributed to financial reasons, I’d hazard to guess that lack of intimacy is either second or an underlying reason. Perhaps one reason for premarital sex is the need for touch with someone aside from family members. In teens, it may be to simply connect with someone who is going through similar changes and explore touch in ways that will help them understand their future mates. It is obvious that self-touch occurs often as a way of exploring what feels good, so it would follow that sharing touch with another person flows from that.

We need touch. A relatively recent therapy, Cuddle Therapy, shows this need is rising. In it, people pay a professional cuddler to simply hold them for a certain time frame. There is no sex and both the cuddler and person being cuddled are fully clothed. It is simply being touched and held that matters. Ada Lippin, CEO and co-founder of Cuddlist, puts it this way:

“We’re touch-deprived, and most of us don’t know it consciously. All we know is that there’s loneliness and stress and a deep sense of missing out. We feel this because there’s a biochemical yearning for something that is missing in our lives. And there is something missing: touch and the connection with others that it fosters”(Cuddlist).

Biblically, the numerous accounts of Jesus healing others came through touching them. There is even an instance where he was unable to go to the person needing healed and simply sent his healing energy to the person and healed them.

There is an energy within touch or even the proximity of someone touching us that can heal us. This is the basis of a form of massage called Reiki wherein the both the person and the practitioner are fully clothed. The practitioner places his or her hands either on the patient or just above the patient and allows the energy of touch to help heal the body naturally. It needs noted that most responsible practitioners of Reiki also know when modern medicine is necessary and consider their form of help to be used in conjunction with modern medicine. Yet, there is a certain power in the simple hand positions used in Reiki that helps both the patient and the healer feel better.

Touch can heal the world. Touch is very powerful. Touch is what the world needs more of to heal us all.

Works Cited

Cuddlist. Https://cuddlist.com

“Hand over Fist Lyrics.” Lyrics.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. Feb. 2018. .

Herman, Ellen. Harry F. Harlow, Monkey Love Experiments. The Adoption History Project. University of Oregon. 24 February 2012. http://pages.uoregon.edu/adoption/studies/HarlowMLE.htm. 7 February 2018.

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