Are You Suffering from Touch Starvation?

We’ve been forbidden human touch. We’ve become afraid of human touch, but we’re also missing it. In these days of COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing extending far beyond the two weeks to flatten the curve, we’ve had one of our most basic needs stripped from us.

Basic needs are usually considered to be water, shelter, food, and clothing. Consider this: an article on Touch Starvation includes this quote from Asim Shah, M.D., a professor and executive vice chair of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine.

“Human beings are wired to touch and be touched. When a child is born, that is how they bond with their mother—through touch, Our wiring system has touch everywhere, so it’s difficult for us not to think about physical contact.”

The above referenced article goes on to say that when touch is limited or eliminated individuals are faced with the very real condition of Touch Starvation along with its many manifestations. Stress hormones may be increased. Digestive challenges may arise. Heart rate and blood pressure may increase. Read the entire article for more scientific explanations of this. (Link found at bottom of page.)

Another article, Hands On Research: The Science of Touch, from Greater Good Magazine (UC Berkeley) tells how profound human touch is in our lives. Here’s a quote from its author,  Dacher Keltner.

“A pat on the back, a caress of the arm—these are everyday, incidental gestures that we usually take for granted, thanks to our amazingly dexterous hands. But after years spent immersed in the science of touch, I can tell you that they are far more profound than we usually realize: They are our primary language of compassion, and a primary means for spreading compassion.”

Jesus would surely agree. Here are just a few examples.
~The woman anointing Jesus’ feet (Luke 7:36-50); Jesus welcomed the sinful woman’s touch.
~Jesus encouraged the children women to come to Him, and He touched them. (Matthew 19:13-15
~Jesus touched Peter’s mother-in-law, her fever left. (Matthew 8:14-15)
~He touched the deaf-mute’s tongue and ears. His sight and hearing were restored. (Mark 7:31-35).
~Jesus washed the disciples feet, and told them to do this for each other. (John 13:1-17)

As we begin to gather together again in socially distanced settings and with touch still forbidden, our touch deprivation continues. I for one am ready to hug my friends without fear, and touch the babies, and hold someone’s hand (without gloves or mask). In the meantime I’m holding to this promise from God.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” ~Isaiah 41:10 (HCSB)


Copyright 2020, Lynn U. Watson

Photos from
Grandfather photo
Girls hugging photo

Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Article from Texas Medical Center found here.

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