Monday 28 November 2016

Skin-Hungry - Not just a Zombie Problem Anymore

Multiple studies are being performed which are revealing the wide-range effects of people not receiving touch... a condition referred to as being "skin-hungry".

"Touching each other keeps the peace," explains Dr Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute.  In high-touch cultures, incidence of violence, loneliness and depression are lower than in low-touch cultures.  In North America, we've created a culture that is particularly deprived of physical contact, particularly among males.

Touch-hunger, or skin-hunger create a host of psychological problems, as proven by studies about inmates in solitary confinement, and on infant rhesus macaques. 

It's possible to be touch hungry and not even know it—or even to mistake your symptoms for poor mental health. "People who are touch hungry usually present as being depressed individuals," Field says. "They're withdrawn; their voice intonation contour is flat." She adds that people suffering from clinical depression may also often suffer from touch hunger—and this can be seen in an area of the brain called the vagus. "When you massage these people, their depression levels go down and their vagal activity goes up."

We know about the healing power of touch.  Now we just need to foster the culture and institutions that support touch as a way to solve problems, rather than seeing it as a problem.