“I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words.” Ann Hood
We’ve seen a massive increase in people accessing mental health assistance this year. As politicians shut down the world and the main stream media filled it with fear self harm and suicidal thoughts and attempts have increased well above their already troubling normal levels.
As people got shut in their homes and social distancing became the norm I am not surprised so many have found this year difficult to deal with. We were not created to live in isolation.
All year I’ve been thinking about the studies I remember hearing about while studying psychology about a study about human touch involving babies that had to be stopped because the babies left alone were dying. It’s easier to find people talking about them than the data from the original studies.
The best I could find was psychology students recalling details from the United States in 1944. The experiment was reportedly conducted on 40 newborn infants to determine whether individuals could thrive alone on basic physiological needs without affection.
Twenty newborn infants were housed in a special facility where they had caregivers who would go in to feed them, bathe them and change their nappies, nothing else. The caregivers had been instructed not to look at or touch the babies more than what was necessary, never communicating with them. All their physical needs were attended to scrupulously and the environment was kept sterile, none of the babies becoming ill.
The experiment was halted after four months, by which time, at least half of the babies had died. More babies died even after being rescued and brought into a more natural familial environment.
There was no physiological cause for the babies' deaths; they were all physically very healthy. Before each baby died, there was a period where they would stop verbalising and trying to engage with their caregivers, generally stop moving, nor cry or even change expression; death would follow shortly. The babies who had "given up" before being rescued, died in the same manner, even though they had been removed from the experimental conditions.
The conclusion was that nurturing is actually a very vital need in humans. Whilst this was taking place, in a separate facility, the second group of twenty newborn infants were raised with all their basic physiological needs provided and the addition of affection from the caregivers. This time however, the outcome was as expected, no deaths encountered.
This is a dramatic example of the affect depriving someone of human touch can have but it’s as relevant as ever due to the year we have survived. Those of us that are still here.
It’s easy to find lists online of some of the warning signs that you might be touch deprived. These could range from increased levels of anxiety and stress to taking more time bathing or hugging your pet or teddy more than usual.
With some of the solutions for this ranging from getting a massage, to getting a hair cut or dance classes it’s no wonder some have found this year hard as some are still banned from doing such things.
A simple hand shake or a hug from a friend can literally save a life. Yet those have been off limits this year. I’m thankful for those who didn’t rely on the media or politicians to tell them the truth and sought out the truth themselves and have continued to hand shake or hug like minded people.
Touch deprivation is not a new thing though. Before this year hug services already existed. Yes for those craving touch so much that didn’t want to see a prostitute could go see a hug practitioner for a non sexual cuddle session. This year has highlighted so many existing problems with our society.
Yes some people are more touch oriented than others. But we were created for community not isolation. It’s been wonderful that we’ve had the technology to stay in touch during lock down but it’s a poor substitute for in person interaction.
So as soon as you and the other party are comfortable with doing so get together and catch up. Ask someone if they would like a hug and if they say no be ok with that. If you or them are sick then use the brain God gave you.
I’m not suggestion anyone act foolishly. I am asking you to get to know the facts about what is happening around the world and your creator well enough that you won’t spend a single day next year living in fear of anything.
Hug someone today.
HUGS SAVE LIVES!
“HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug: Heaven knows they need it.” Princess Diana
Next Time: What would you like me to write about next time?
Neville Hiatt was the 2020 Press Services International Tronson Senior Writers Award Winner for Australia. His previous posts for can be read here.
He spent a decade working for Radio Stations before his career was intermissioned by someone in a hurry to get home from work. For more of his award winning creativity visit http://nevillehiatt.com.
He also blogs for http://altcoincollege.com/covering the way cryptocurrencies and blockchain are changing our world.