Western man has paid attention to senses of distance (sight and hearing) and has valued less senses of proximity (touch, smell) At least in their social relationships, we live in a culture of no contact.
The importance of touch in childhood
The most primitive sense is the of touch. The fetus perceives its first sensations through its skin.
Childbirth already involves a strong massage of several hours that prepares you for life abroad. Already born, his breathing is caused by clapping and contact of different types. And the punching of his brain begins through physical contacts with the mother.
Abandoned and untouched children grow up with significant emotional deficiencies. They are victims of the call "Marasmus" or child weakness that devastated the hospices in which the babies were not taken in arms. Apparently the frontal part of the brain (balance and motor activity) does not develop correctly, but through affective-tactile stimuli.
The touch in the cultural and social context
The mother's independence process becomes a progressive tactile isolation of the child. Our society has identified touch with sex and is systematically controlled. The highest and most religious classes have observed greater social abstinence from contacts between speakers, it has been minimized for reasons of urbanity.
Especially the male is educated to avoid any tactile approach, as a sign of weakness or effeminacy. A test has been done to know the response of men and women to the touch in a situation of discomfort, stillness and darkness. The men who were in direct contact, shoulder to shoulder, showed greater anxiety than those separated by a plastic or a string. The women were calmer when they were allowed to come into contact.
Another experience under study (Heslin and Boss) took the Indianapolis airport as a scenario: in the farewells there was a greater tactile approach than in the arrivals; it seemed as if they wanted to replace the next separation with it. On the other hand, women accentuated physical contact with each other while men used to shake hands. It was also noted that in the farewells between people of the opposite sex, the men took the initiative to hug and kiss. The elderly were more determined than the young. Continuing with his observation, contrast that after the farewell, the feeling of freedom or relaxation demonstrated the emotional effort made.
An unusual show in our culture of no contact, especially among men, is offered by the components of a football team when they score or win. The spontaneous effusivity of its multiple hugs contrasts with the general reserve that is imposed in other circumstances.
- Touch communication is found among adults in the tangle that confuses communicative love and sexual relationship. Identifying love and sexual activity leads us to understand communication as something psychic, spiritual, which only develops, outside the sexual partner, through the senses of distance.
- To love is to turn to the other with the willingness to contribute to their survival and perfection. Sex takes us ourselves. It can be thought, and often occurs, a sexual exchange that is self-esteem for self-centered, strong, hard, with your partner. Love is oriented to forget itself, to leave itself.
- Communicating is not sending pieces of information over the air. Human communication is not given until we enter the world of the other and establish a vital relationship with him. As Martín Buber said "the basic movement of dialogue is to turn to the other".
- The touch communicates us intensely. He finishes approaching us, incorporates us and merges into one, as seen in a goodbye hug or in the joy of a team goal. The distance, the prohibition of a complete approach mutilates our personal perception of our interlocutor. It makes it abstract and alien, when temperature, pulse and skin releases would give us new dimensions of our common condition: living and human beings, in need of support and relationship.
- Sex, the appearance of a pre-sexual courtship at least, culturally prevents us from the tactile approach that would facilitate communication and love. The lack of both ingredients in our coexistence would advise us to clarify ideas about touch, communication, love and sex.