Touch starved or touch-me-not, skin hunger can get ’em all

skin hunger for touch
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The entire human life is designed to be an intimate experience. Right from its inception in the womb through infancy tucked in the lap of a caring mother into childhood enveloped by the strength of a doting father to adulthood when friends and partners come also to surround us in all the warmth of affection, love and physical togetherness, it is the realisation of intimacy that grants us a fulfilling life. Even for such folks who might otherwise abhor the very tendrils of touch, this craving for some form of physical connect is one that manages to retain its innate essence, drawing from the very human- or rather animate premise of what is known as skin hunger. Despite however in its probability to come across as suggestive, skin hunger is far from what you would outright translate as lust or a fetish for the physical. It rather is a very delicate expression of the universal human want for touch, coming across through such manifestations of it through any and every form of relationship you maintain as emotional and social beings ,that has you craving for this physical connect even when you might not really be expressing your desire for it.

This fetish of harbouring the connect has been empirical in humans, however it mostly has been fostering the emotional aspect of such connection that has come to gain centerstage, either because of the somewhat negative connotations associated with touch or the fact that physical contact is considered to be effortless and therefore not so much substantial. Touch however can also be as healing as that soul connection we so covet, even when the former is a realm not essentially explored, at least not much in wistfully longing ideas of it. And while there’s no denying the importance and affect a sensual version of the touch can likely lend, this prominence of the body contact can establish its power in also as gentle a manner. While experiencing a sensation in your heart every rare time your hand brushes against your crush’s might still be sensual despite the gentle feel of it, it doesn’t in any way undo the impact it can have on the being- that of a certain warmth that which radiates you in a happy glow. Because that’s the power yielded by something as basic as touch and that which can take on as many interpretation even in its seemingly ordinary residing in the physicality of what is often overlooked- or even derided- as mere skin contact.

This range of the now recognized powers of the touch touch down upon the mental as well as physical aspects of life. A wholesome entity, in being a physical mode of communication that arouses also the deep reaches of your emotions, the recognition of a touch by the human body, no matter how subtle or however momentary rests on the existence of a nerve ending, called C-tactile afferents. From retarding the production of the stress hormone cortisol to lowering blood pressure and heart rate by calming down the nervous system, it is no wonder that touch remains an important element of the procedure in medical sciences. All of these aid also in the greater goal of boosting the immunity of your body and therefore your health, making touch at least as effective an entity as humour in being tonic to the human being. As regards the emotional benefits of this form of physical contact, touch is thought to be crucial for building healthy relationships, especially early on in life, by stimulating pathways for oxytocin, the natural antidepressant serotonin, and the pleasure chemical dopamine. But perhaps the most profound impact that even a random touch can have on your being is that it can seriously help in thwarting off the lonely feels and can also be a critical factor in warding away depression.

skin hunger movie
Source: IMDb

With a range of such vital life processes that while might not be exclusively governed by touch but still is influenced in part by it, it only is natural that going for long periods of time without even an occasional hug or embrace to remind you of the warmth of it leads to disorders in the human body. Manifesting as the condition of skin hunger, also known as touch starvation or touch deprivation, this concept in the realm of the psychological is what arises when this very essential survival trait of craving touch is not met effectively, leaving the body and soul famished for affection. This longing to touch and be touched is a desire so rooted in our essence as humans that the absence of it can lead to a range of conditions that afflict both the mind and the body. From feeling increasingly depressed and lonely to experiencing anxiety and stress as well as disruptions in the normal sleep cycle, being deprived of touch present itself in a number of ways. Also present can be such experiences that might be downgrading the very quality of your life, stemming from low relationship satisfaction as also surprisingly a tendency to shun them completely. Often times, this hunger for touch might be manifesting well through its symptoms even without the realisation that what we are experiencing is something more concrete than what we tend to term as ‘not feeling at ease’.

Easing this feeling of uneasiness might be touches as basic as fingers intertwining, hands held in perfect rapture or more involving as those that entails the warm embrace of hugs or the soothing, sometime arousing effect of cuddles. Even effective are such friendly or casual gestures of human acknowledgement that involve skin contact in some way or the other, like a pat on the back or the lending of a shoulder or even a brush of the hand while shielding from something invasive or even otherwise. Of such strength is the impact of positive touches that they can instantly alleviate such feelings of desolateness or such awareness of worthlessness that can be potentially, and often is, life threatening. A touch heals because it is reassuring, it helps because it is therapeutic and most often then not it has you feeling more comfortable about yourself because it occurs as a response to a basic human need that is at par with the requirements of food, shelter and clothing. Touch also is reminiscent of familiarity- something that can be so helpful an experience to make you realise that you are not alone in this world, despite your perceptions to the contrary. It harbours also a sense of belonginess and of trust as well leading you to a certain safe space, where you manage to find your own.

But while craving touch might be a universal experience and one that people around would be willing to help you with, it is possible also to derive somewhat similar results from the touch experience from other animate, or even inanimate things. Cuddling up with your pet comes close, as does holding a stuffed toy or hugging a fluffy pillow or sometimes even self caressing yourself to the realisation of personal worth. Sometimes skin hunger can necessitate also actively addressing your touchy needs by presenting yourself to others, who might not be aware of the level of touch craving that would be the optimum for you, since every individual has their own measure of it. It would also help to be more assertive yourself when it comes to shaking hands with acquaintances or greeting your folks with a hug or a peck instead of just resorting to hi and bye. Even with hugging, it is essential to maintain the contact for at least 20 seconds for the full benefit of it, since this is the time that oxytocin takes to release in the body. However, whenever you are going for the touch gesture with anyone, even if people so close to you that they are family, it is essential to be considerate of also their needs and inhibitions if any, since anything unwanted can easily translate to negative touching, which can be even more detrimental than being touch deprived. Especially with children, it becomes all the more essential to foster the understanding and habit of positive touch not only for their benefit but also because it can help your skin hunger to a greater extent because of just how honest tiny tots tend to be with their affection.

Self touch can be resorted to as well that which is however not limited to just cafune or the act of tenderly running fingers through someone’s hair, this time your own. Actively indulging in self love also can entail such acts as booking yourself a massage or spa session or even a manicure or beauty appointment or just about anything that involves such touch that be relaxing for both body and soul. Skin hunger is something as instinctive as the hunger for food and to embrace your need of and desire for it is what contributes in part to making you instinctively human.


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