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The Necessity Of Touch

256 views Since it was Spewed out 10 years, 6 months ago at 11:32 pm

Touch isn’t exactly something I pay particular attention to unless it’s specific and vital to an experience or action.  Like petting an exotic animal or feeling my way around in the dark for the light switch.  However I was recently talking to someone else about how it’s so odd that having been away from familiar physical interaction we start acting differently.

It was with this observance I was reminded of the famous Rhesus monkey experiments performed by Dr Harlow back in the  60’s.  Where baby monkeys were given a choice between two surrogate mothers.  Each one a wire frame construction that supplied them with milk.  One was covered in a soft cloth and the other was left bare.

There was a clear preference by the monkeys for the softer and more cuddly surrogate, despite the fact that both provided the necessary nourishment.

Anyways, I’ve started to realize how I’ve started to act differently.  I’m far more jumpier when it comes to casual physical interaction.  I get more startled and defensive when someone taps me on the shoulder, brushes by me on the street, or pokes me for fun.

The big difference though I’ve found is the lack of affectionate contact.  I didn’t realize what a vital role that plays in how you feel.  Perhaps “realize” isn’t the right word, I realize it plays an important role but I fail to recognize it when it’s lacking.  I had failed to notice that there has been so little.

What surprised me the most is the overwhelming sense of comfort when it finally happened.  That one hug that seemed to differ  from others, the one that brings a realization that someone who cares is exhibiting that they do care.  It’s funny how you can tell whether it is something sincere or not.

I grew up in a home with a real lack of touch, which I think is a bit messed up (but that’s best left for another post).  The messed up part is my parents now try to make up for it.   These interactions and physical contact are incredibly uncomfortable because they are so foreign.  That felling is “not good”

Sometimes it’ll just be the feel of a friendly shoulder leaning on yours.  This feels “good”

Sometimes it’ll be a stranger meeting you for the first time and upon departing giving you that hug. It’s fitting, it’s right. This feels “good”

Now given that same circumstance after meeting someone for the first time, sometimes it ends up feeling weird and awkward.  This feeling is “not good”.

So where is the trigger between what comforts and discomforts when it comes down to touch and physical interaction? You’d think that a family trying to make up for a lack of physical contact would  feel good, but it doesn’t. Interacting with people for the first time you’d think it would be foreign, but sometimes it’s just so natural.

There certainly doesn’t seem to be any logic to it and so I’m leaning on the thinking that it’s not so much controlled by what’s in your brain, but by your feelings and emotions.  So touch is a matter of the heart perhaps.  What do you think?

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