Infants who do not receive physical touch from another human being die. Babies who are not held and nuzzled and hugged enough will literally stop growing, and if the situation is protracted enough, even if they are receiving proper nutrition, die.
If touch is this vital to an infants survival, then surely being deprived of touch must also have negative effects on adults?
It turns out it does.
A recent study found that people who are affection deprived or experiencing what psychologists are calling “skin hunger,” are less happy, more lonely, more likely to experience anxiety, depression and stress, and in general, are in worse health. This obviously affects most aspects of life, from developing healthy relationships to personal well being. It’s not to say being affection deprived causes these conditions, but that you’re more likely to suffer from these negative conditions when you are skin hungry.
What is clear is that satisfying your skin hunger requires meaningful physical contact with another person, and failing this will have negative emotional and physical consequences.
What is also apparent is that the conditions above are ubiquitous and trending in the wrong direction. More people than ever are feeling lonely and isolated. Depression and mood disorder statistics are peaking with no sign of levelling off and people are finding it increasingly difficult to connect in meaningful ways. Connecting through technology and social media is a poor substitute for the meaningful, physical connection we all crave, and we’re suffering the effects.
I think none more so than men. Gentle, platonic touch is all but absent in most men’s lives. This is partly because of stereotypical male beliefs and behaviours, homophobia, and also an underlying narrative that men can’t be trusted.
In an article titled: How a lack of touch is destroying men, the author sums up this narrative succinctly when he writes, “we believe that men can never be entirely trusted in the realm of the physical. We collectively suspect that, given the opportunity, men will revert to the sexual at a moment’s notice. That men don’t know how to physically connect otherwise. That men can’t control themselves. That men are dogs.
And where does this leave men? Physically and emotionally isolated. Cut off from the deeply human physical contact that is proven to reduce stress, encourage self esteem and create community. Instead, we walk in the vast crowds of our cities alone in a desert of disconnection. Starving for physical connection.”
What’s the answer? For me it’s to remain affectionately connected to my sons irrespective of their age. It’s to reach out and connect with those around me, and build meaningful, relationships where vulnerability, gentleness and trust flourish. It’s to begin where I am, and question my own biases, beliefs, fears and narratives, and to ultimately reach out and touch someone’s hand, and make this world a better place, if I can.
What’s the answer for you?
Link to article: https://upliftconnect.com/how-lack-touch-destroying-men/