Some of you may be asking, “Is this even a thing?”
“In the United States, 1944, an experiment was 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 diapers, but they would do 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 at that point. At least two more 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 verbalizing 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.” 1
Touch deprivation, also known as touch hunger, or touch starvation, has been proven to have adverse effects. The following excerpt supports some of my findings.
“Scientists have found that a nerve ending, called C-tactile afferents, exists to recognize any form of gentle touch.
In fact, according to a 2017 study, the ideal touching speed is between 3 and 5 centimeters per second.
This releases oxytocin, also known as the love hormone.
You may feel overwhelmingly lonely or deprived of affection. These symptoms may be combined with:
- feelings of depression
- low relationship satisfaction
- difficulty sleeping
- a tendency to avoid secure attachments
You may also subconsciously do things to simulate touch, such as taking long, hot baths or showers, wrapping up in blankets, and even holding on to a pillow or pet. 2
Can Touch Deprivation Effect Your Sexuality?
After doing some research, these are my findings:
1. An individual who may have been brought up in a home where gentle or affirming parental touch was absent may be more insecure about their overall identity.
2. Some studies have shown that individuals that experienced touch deprivation, growing up, were more prone to developing sexual dysfunctions. For instance, a touch hungry individual may conclude that touching is always used to initiate sex; therefore, touch, in most cases, should end with sex. Additionally, I found many participated in sexual intercourse at a much earlier age.
3. Marriages that reflected a low or reduced level of touching unknowingly passed this practice on to their children who modeled the same behavior with their partners and spouses.
4. Those who became aware of their condition at a mature age placed a high priority on a non-sexual touch more so than those who did not.
5. On the other hand, an individual who grew up in an atmosphere where affectionate touch was appropriately applied, that person will be more sensitive in a relationship where touch is absent. Furthermore, the absence could cause both frustration or a relationship fracture.
Forms of Non-Sexual Touch
A person who may be experiencing touch starvation can look to one or more of the following for comfort.
1. Discuss the need that you may be having with your partner or someone you trust to increase touch
2. Hug those you love and break the awkward barrier that a non-touching environment may have built around you
3. Enjoy the service of a professional masseuse or masseur
4. Consider attending a Cuddling Group or the services of a certified cuddler—yes, there’s such a thing
5. Seek relationships that are more apt to provide genuine affection rather than physical sex
Like most things, arriving at the place of owning your truth is the beginning of receiving a breakthrough. Whatever you choose to do, don’t choose nothing.
By Ron Marinari
#touchdeprivation #touchhunger #touchstarvation #platoniclove #massage #cuddling #ronmarinari
1 US Experiment on infants withholding affection, St. Paul’s Collegiate School Hamilton
2 What Does it Mean to be Touched Starved? Healthline