Our Need for Touch


Our Need for Touch

By Duane Hewitt

As feeling, physical beings we have a need for touch. Touch, that is, good, feeling, sensitive touch that is not hostile or threatening, calms. It soothes. It can excite us as well as quell any discomfort within us 

Our skin is the largest organ of the human body and that outer covering is capable of remarkable sensitivity… from a gentle breeze that washes over the body to the pleasant feeling of water cascading over us, and to so many other amazing feelings and sensory perceptions that range from the most sublime sensual touch to a wealth of touching-feeling experiences.

Types of touch that we human beings are capable of giving or receiving is virtually endless… a gentle, reassuring pat on the back or on the back of another’s hand can do much to express support and encouragement. The tip of the little finger slid seductively along the arm or up the leg of another can excite, and with that excitement ignite feelings of anticipation, pleasure, friendship, and more. Hugs are universally accepted (in most cultures) as love, friendship, support, assurance, strength, unity and bonding. And there are different types of hugs with their many subtleties. 

The touch of an earlobe, a gentle or passionate kiss, holding hands or taking another’s arm, it all adds up in the mind and body’s “touch vault”; associations that the brain locks away as pleasant and beneficial, and both mind and body remember such touch experiences. Touch can be that much-needed boost for emotional strength that we so often need in difficult times. Even more, touch can be a positive factor in improved team dynamics and learning engagement. And there is evidence that good touch can benefit our health by providing us with stronger immune systems that are better equipped to fend off disease.

During a time of social distancing and social isolationism, touch becomes crucial to our well-being. So as we find ourselves in this worldwide pandemic with a fallout that has been created from social isolationism, we must all be aware of some of the symptoms that can be attributed to lack of touch: stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems, to name a few.

And touch may just be our much needed antidote.

Copyright 2020 Duane Hewitt.

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