ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Are Touch Deprivation & Skin Hunger?

Updated on August 5, 2019
SinDelle profile image

The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.

Touch deprivation is exactly what it sounds like: a person is deprived of being touched. As human beings, we need physical contact with other living things. Hugs, holding hands, tickling, play wrestling, a pat on the shoulder, a high five, sex, petting a dog or cat and all of the ways that we physically interact with other living things are actually very important for our well-being.

To illustrate how important it is, consider the sometimes astounding rate of infant mortality in orphanages. Researchers have found that in group settings where there is simply not enough time or staff to give children the attention they need, babies who are only being given basic care fail to thrive. Some even die as a result of not being given the interaction that we need as living things, even though they are being fed and basically cared for correctly. The children that do survive are often physically and emotionally stunted; they may be much smaller than others their age and cognitively delayed. Their behavior is often similar to children with autism: they avoid eye contact, they don't talk, they don't smile at others. As you may know, there can be many other developmental and behavioral problems reported in children that were raised in orphanages and situations where they are neglected in this way.

An experiment with infant rhesus monkeys in the 1950s showed that when two different "mothers" were constructed for them out of wire, the babies spent their time with the "mother" that was warm and cuddly, even though the bare wire "mother" gave food and the cuddly "mother" gave no food. The experiment further showed that when some babies were given only a cuddly "mother" and some were only given a wire "mother," the ones with the wire "mother" seemed to lack the ability to soothe themselves and had heightened, even hysterical reactions to fear for much longer. While many (including the author) abhor this type of experimentation and believe it to be horribly even despicably cruel, it clearly demonstrates what damage can be done to a brain if there is no loving touch.

Loving touch is not just essential for proper development in babies. It is calming and essential for wellness in all human beings. It stimulates the vagus nerve and causes it to slow down your nervous system. It lowers your heart rate, your blood pressure, calms down cortisol production, releases serotonin and dopamine... This is true for adults as well. Humans of all ages need loving touch in their lives. When these things do not occur, there can be illness such as depression, acquired auto-immune disease and problems, as well as all of the other things we know to occur with high stress levels. People with high levels of touch deprivation and skin hunger can also experience social dissatisfaction, more mood and anxiety disorders, have trouble expressing and recognizing emotions and have trouble forming secure attachments with other people in their lives.

Touch is more than just physical, though. It's emotional. Most of our communication as people is non-verbal, and touch is the first language we learn as babies. It communicates emotion better than even gestures or words and leaves a lasting impression on people. Studies have found that students who received a touch on the back or the arm from a teacher were twice as likely to volunteer in class compared to those who did not. A massage from a loved one has been showed to ease pain and help depression. During a study at the University of Indiana, blindfolded participants were able to discern the emotions conveyed through touch from a stranger, with up to 70% accuracy - without even being able to see them.

It is no wonder then, that those in toxic or narcissistic relationships suffer from touch deprivation so terribly. When there is no loving touch, there is a lack of communication, support and so much more on a fundamental, basic level. It is not uncommon for people in these kinds of relationships to realize they have gone weeks or even months without so much as a hug or touch of the hand. This can cause a huge amount of stress and depression in people, even though they may not realize why. They only know they feel disconnected, lonely, angry and hurt. When this is combined with trauma and abuse, the negative impact is possibly incalculable.

Touch deprivation is also known as skin hunger because hunger is a need. You don't get hungry because you want food. You get hungry because you need food. Skin hunger literally means your skin is hungry. It needs contact. If you find yourself suffering from touch deprivation, more touch is the cure. If you cannot get the affection you need from your significant other or family member, you can always turn to friends. You can get a massage. Animals are wonderful. Petting and cuddling receptive, friendly animals is good for you and for them. Ask people for hugs if you need them. You might find that many others need a hug, too.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)