I’m very excited to again this week join a talented group of women who connect each Friday in an online, unedited (so excuse all errors) flash mob free-write based on a one-word prompt from our fearless leader Kate Motaung. My timer is set for 5 minutes; let’s see where the word “touch” takes me.
While in college, I learned of a study involving babies in orphanages. I’ve forgotten many of the particulars — the wheres and the numbers involved — but what I do remember is that the babies were not thriving. In fact, although they were well taken care of and received more than adequate nutrition and medical care, they were dying at far higher rates than babies raised with poorer medical care, a lack of food, etc.
Orphanage workers were baffled. Doctors were brought in. Again, the details escape me, but somehow it was determined that the babies failed to thrive because, due to a shortage of manpower for the number of babies being cared for, the infants failed to be touched other than when absolutely necessary. Diaper-changing, baths, and feeding were done as quickly as possible because so many babies needed attention.
Volunteers from the community were recruited to hold and rock the babies on a regular basis. The babies began to thrive and the death rate plummeted to far below average.
Similar studies in America and around the world prove the importance to seniors — particularly widows and widowers as well.
Over and again, science has proven the enormous value of human touch.
In recent years, though, we’ve become leery of touch and of touching others. Businesses and school districts provide training about touching and even warn employees to not touch other people unless absolutely necessary.
More recently, the conduct of some politicians and celebrities have turned the concept of touch into something dirty and even the subject of one-liners and social media memes.
That saddens me.
The fact is, we all benefit from the appropriate, caring touch of another human being.
A hand on the shoulder of a frightened or grieving person, a gentle hug for a friend who is struggling, holding the hand of a hospital or nursing-home patient.
A simple gesture, but oh how life-affirming.
This blog is intended to be a place of conversation, and I hope you’ll join in that conversation by posting your own thoughts via a comment below.