“The real action of compassion . . . is touch.” Dacher Keltner, in Hands On Research: The Science of Touch, gives some profound insight as to not only the therapeutic value of touch but also its social functions. He reports briefly on an experiment showing that the emotions communicated through touch are more easily identified than those from facial and vocal expressions, although apparently this is more true with people of the same gender.
Every time I return to the U.S., I'm so aware of how much more hugging and touching in general - such as pats on the hand or the back - I experience than in Japan. I often am starving for touch and have to wonder how much that has contributed to my gaining a great deal of weight over the past 15 years.
Fortunately I have my cats, who demand a great deal of touching, but it's not exactly reciprocal. Even though I have become more keenly aware of the lack of touch in my daily life, through this article and video, I can't exactly run out and start touching the people I come into contact with. However, at least I can make an appointment with a massage therapist and make sure that I get more healing touch from massage in my life.
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