Friday, April 26, 2019

Touch (FMF)

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. 

Time's up! 

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.  


  1. Excellently explained. The power of touch.

  2. There is no need to hug me
    for I am not afraid,
    even though my destiny
    may well be the grave.
    Let the others feel the grace
    of your healing, loving hand
    that can save them from a place
    that they do not understand.
    I'm OK here on my own
    and I was born for this;
    most all my life I've been alone;
    what you don't have you don't miss.
    I do not feel sad, deprived;
    I stand my ground, and am alive.

  3. I have read that same study and found it impressive. I, myself, am very "touchy". Several of my kids are too so I have someone on my lap, leaning against me, or coming in for a hug pretty much all day long. I love it! It nurishes my soul as well!

  4. I remember those studies now that you mention them. I think there is a lot of truth to the need for touch, however it may vary. It is sad, as you say, that people mess up stuff and now there are more and more rules about interacting with children in schools.