Touch Deprived


My experiences in the sex-positive burner and polyamorous communities have led me to realize a stark reality – our society is touch deprived.

I knew that I enjoyed the physical presence and touch of others from the early days of my forays in to polyamorous events and most importantly at cuddle parties, but as I have connected more wholly with my body through mindfulness, I became aware of just how deep that went. It is absolutely irrelevant whether the touch is sexual or not, the pleasure of touching and being touched is very strong. So much so that I prefer a good cuddle party over sex. So much so that I will literally get high, as if I were on drugs – only with an unlimited duration and no side-effects.
Why is this? What is missing in my life that results in this strong reaction?

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It turns out that I am not the only one, that we are a social species highly oriented to touch and that our society has somehow forgotten how important it is to our mental and emotional health and well-being. Unlike other primates, who spend 10-20% of their time grooming each other[1], whereas we in the West don’t spend nearly as much of that time in inter-personal physical contact.
We are so hard-wired for touch, that we can even communicate emotions more accurately through touch than looking at facial expressions [2].

our society is touch deprived

Not only that, but touch soothes pain, decreases stress and anxiety, increases happiness and strengthens the immune system [3] [4]. I don’t know of any medically accepted hugging therapies, but then again research in to hugging has only really taken off in the last few years, so the body of evidence is still quite small and the best designed study in this regard would probably be a cohort study, since you can’t hide from the patients whether they are being hugged or not.
Nevertheless touch and specifically hugging is taking off as a privately funded prophylactic just as exercise and good diet already are. I know what I need and how to ask for it, yet many of us find it difficult to ask for a cuddle or may find it uncomfortable to ask friends and family for a cuddle (especially women fearing that a cuddle will be taken as a sexual advance). As such, I have joined the growing movement and with other like-minded people, we have started our own side business as professional cuddlers.

http://cuddlers.net

Professional cuddlers banner

Give cuddling a try with us or another professional in your area. Like me, you might never have realized just what you are missing until you have it.

[1] Dacher KeltnerĀ | 29 September 2010, Science of Touch, Greater Good Science Center, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/hands_on_research

[2] Matthew J Hertenstein | 9 August 2006, The communication of emotion via touch, Emotion Vol.6(3), http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~keltner/publications/hertenstein.2006.pdf

[3] Tiffany Field | December 2010, Touch for socioemotional and physical well-being: A review, Developmental Review Vol.30(4), http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0273229711000025

[4] Kasley Killam | 17 March 2015, A Hug a Day Keeps the Doctor Away, Scientific American, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-hug-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away/

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