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Health and sanity

Valentina Nicolae
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piqer: Valentina Nicolae
Monday, 12 March 2018

I Touch, Therefore I Am

Did you know that humans have a nerve ending that exists solely to recognise a gentle stroke? Did you know that there exists a cuddle “retail centre” where professional cuddlers can give you a Tarantino hug?

Neither did I. But these things are real, because touch is more important than you’d think at first glance. Actually, it’s so important that, in this era where doctors are warned to not comfort their patients with hugs, where foster carers avoid touching children in their care, and where the UK is dealing with a loneliness epidemic, one has to ask themselves if the lack of touch is starting to harm our mental health.

Because it can definitely do that. Just look at what the Ceaușescu regime did to children in orphanages, who were raised with minimal to no human touch. Research shows that touch reduces feelings of social exclusion, that it helps the release of cortisol, which controls the stress hormone, that it increases serotonin levels and helps people sleep better.

“When a parent strokes a child, for instance, “they are writing out the script that was laid down by 30 million years of evolution,” McGlone says. “We are destined to cuddle and stroke each other at predetermined velocities.” The pleasantness encourages us to keep touching, nourishes babies and binds adults, and threads wellbeing into the fabric of our being. It could also teach us more about the touch-averse, including how and when autism and eating disorders develop, and even lead us to a cure for loneliness.”
I Touch, Therefore I Am
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