Physical touch only received four votes out of 218. I think physical touch is underrated. Although it hadn’t been something I had thought of either, it’s definitely important for our health. Physical touch goes over our heads when it comes to health. It doesn’t seem like something we can do to actually make our health better. As it turns out, physical touch is very important to our health.
In Romania, after Vasile Milea suspiciously died and Ceaușescu fell, orphanages didn’t have enough people to properly take care of the babies. That meant that the babies didn’t get held nearly as often as they would have. As a result, those babies turned into children with a variety of emotional problems, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They also had many physical ailments like weakened immune systems and skin problems.
Tiffany Field, a leader in the field of touch, conducted an experiment and it showed that preterm babies that received three 15 minute touch therapy sessions gained 47% more weight than preterm babies that did not.
If thought about, it makes sense. Dr. Dacher Keltner said, “it is the first language we learn.” Before words, we experience touch. It’s a universal language. Everyone can understand a supportive back pat or a warm hug. Warm, encouraging, friendly touches have been shown to release oxytocin, a feel-good hormone in the brain.
Dr. Oveis conducted an experiment where he took 69 couples and asked them about difficult times in their relationship. Although the results aren’t conclusive, it seems to show that the couples that touched more got more satisfaction from their relationships.
Another study, by Jim Coan and Richard Davidson, showed that patients, waiting for a loud blast of white noise, who had their partners stoke their arm showed less activity in the areas of the brain associated with threats and stress.
Decreased physical touch has been linked to an increase in violence. Psychologists believe it’s a lack of mother/child bonding. On the other hand, more physical touch has shown more trust between people, decreased disease, stronger immune systems, encourages learning, and helps build stronger team dynamics.
It seems like these are pretty good reasons to get out there and hug somebody today.
Carey, Benedict. “Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Feb. 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/health/23mind.html.
Chillot, Rick. “The Power of Touch.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 11 Mar. 2013, http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201303/the-power-touch.
Keltner, Datcher. “Hands On Research: The Science of Touch.” Greater Good, 29 Sept. 2010, greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/hands_on_research.
Stromberg, Joseph. “9 Surprising Facts about the Sense of Touch.” Vox, Vox, 28 Jan. 2015, http://www.vox.com/2015/1/28/7925737/touch-facts.
Williams, Ray. “8 Reasons Why We Need Human Touch More Than Ever.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 28 Mar. 2015, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201503/8-reasons-why-we-need-human-touch-more-ever.