Can you imagine life without the sense of touch?
The skin is the largest organ that we have. In fact, the skin can cover an area of around 21 square feet if taken off and laid flat. The skin creates a barrier between the things inside our body and the things outside. It serves as our protection from various external factors. The skin also serves as a channel to one’s most intimate physical and psychological self.
The skin has three layers. What we see outside is called the epidermis and it is what serves as a layer of protection which prevents harmful microorganisms from entering the body. The middle layer is called the dermis. Collagen, elastin and nerve endings are found in this layer. The subcutaneous fat is the skin’s innermost layer. It contains tissue which acts as a source of energy and serves as a cushion and insulator.
The Mysteries of Touch
We have the sense of touch because of our skin. It is still profoundly mysterious even with the fact that we are already very familiar with the characteristics of the skin. Our senses are stimulated from touching and it can be argued that touch is our most essential source of sensory stimulation. We know that life is still possible without having the sense of sight or hearing and it is actually a fact that even without all of the other senses except touch. It has been found out that babies born with defective nerve connections between the brain and the skin can actually fail to progress and may even die.
The Effects of Touch and Being Touch-Deprived
Years ago, our scientists experimented with monkeys. In this experiment, the baby monkeys were not allowed to be touched by their mothers. (This type of experiment is now seen as unethical and inhumane.) Although the baby monkeys are able to smell, see and hear their mothers, with touch out of the equation, the baby monkeys soon became apathetic and did not progress. Deprived of touching and being touched by their mothers, their behavior was very different from other young primates who were not deprived of being touched and touching their primate mothers. Instead of exploring like young primates normally do, they were throwing themselves on the floor and all the time they were crying and grimacing. One report stated that the baby monkeys would usually huddle against a wall and start rocking back and forth while covering their heads and faces with their hands.
In humans being touched-deprived also has negative results which can continue on for a lifetime. In cultures where touching is a norm and encouraged, aggression in adults is low however in cultures where touch is limited, aggression in adults is quite high. This is according to the Touch Research Institutes of the University of Miami, School of Medicine. Studies made on various cultures revealed that there is a connection between physical affection (touch) in childhood and physical violence in adulthood. Studies have shown the children who were showered with physical affection through lovingly touch had very low physical violent tendencies in their adult years.
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