The need to be touched, the longing for physical closeness constitutes a fundamental human requirement.
Bodily contact conveys positive emotions, we are moved when we are touched, our soul is touched.
But physical immediacy is also Janus-faced. It can open and electrify us, but also threaten and disgust, hurt or please.
And so we are stuck in a dilemma.
We often aim to dissolve the conflict, our ambivalence of needing closeness and yet yearning to be protected from unwanted closeness in times of vulnerability, within ourselves, within our own bodies.
Fear of contact versus tactile longing.
We want to be close, but not too close, please!
The modern meritocracy stands in the way of interpersonal contact and physical confidentiality.
Global mobility, digital technology and communication have social consequences.
Individualism and singularity, which emphasize our uniqueness, though certainly necessary to be able to cope flexibly with competitions, are superficial yet domineering our every perception.
Our libido wanders around in the consumer world. And so we are heading for a society full of closed-mindedness, mistrust and non-contact.
Fear and stress keep us from ourselves and from each other.
None the less, in accepting this, we urgently need physical contact, and if it were only to define and justify our very existence.
Touch reduces stress and tension. It also stimulates brain development and stabilizes the immune system. Those, whose lifes are rich with tactual sensations, suffer less from depression and high blood pressure.
Not to mention the simple fact, that benevolent bodily contact creates trust: Tactile stimulation leads to the release of large quantities of oxytocin, the so-called “binding hormone”, from the pituitary gland. And incidentally, the stress hormone cortisol is being constrained in the process.
Basically, we perceive the proximity of other people as protection and assistance, touch as acceptance.
Even their absence makes clear the positive meaning and protective function of human proximity.
Those who feel lonely are tighter, more anxious; even act hostile toward their fellow human beings. An isolated person often unconsciously communicates to those who meet him the feeling that rapprochement is unwelcome to him.
In consequence closeness, when it comes to it, is experienced as potentially threatening, and loneliness, therefore, can be seen as a self-reinforcing, nihilistic emotional process.
Generally speaking, we long for the removal of insulating distance. And at the same time we shy away from closeness as a break-through from loss of control and physical distress.
The simple reason for this is, that equilibrity of distance and security is a deeply rooted human condition, too.
Fear of loneliness and distress, longing for closeness and for distance keep the balance.
This fatal balance must be broken, the scale pan lowered in favor of tactility and closeness!
Of course, dedication and acceptance are needed; not least the recognition that touch and closeness can also be dangerous and hurtful. Yet physical contact is existential, essential and deeply human.
And above all: Trust.
In other people, yes, but first and foremost in oneself!
Be touchable, be touched!