The human need to touch someone and why it matters
Skin hunger is not a new phenomenon, but as people become more "connected" by technology, the lack of physical touch can make us lonely.
The term skin hunger is a psychological one that can also be called "touch hunger". It is the physiological need that humans have for human touch and interaction. Not only a sexual need, although often associated with sex, people have a human tendency to touch and be touched.
There was a famous psychological study decades ago where they had two groups of baby monkeys. One was left in a room with a metal feeding device, and one group was left with a feeding trough covered with a cloth. Nobody should shock what they found; primates are wired to need the contact and warmth of others through physical contact.
Anyone who has ever had a child knows that feeling that your arms are empty when they are far away. Or, if you break up with someone who misses a hug or is being held by the person who was holding you. The skin hunger phenomenon is a basic need we all have for health and well-being. A lack of affection can not only cause psychological deficits, but it can also lead to poor health outcomes.
As the world becomes more automated, the skin hunger problem continues to grow. Connecting on Facebook is not the same as meeting someone for lunch and giving a hug.
Skin hunger has scientific grounds
Just like normal hunger, when you are hungry, you act in different ways to satisfy your hunger. Just as we need food to survive, our bodies need physical touch. The adverse effects of skin hunger are real. It can lead to a feeling of depression, loneliness, stress and worse health effects over time.
It can also lead to anxiety, immune deficiency and mood disorders of various types. Severe skin hunger, especially when experienced early in development, can lead to a condition called alexithymia, which is the inability to properly interpret or express emotions. It can also lead to an avoidant attachment style or be anxious in social interactions.
We all long for different levels of affection from those around us. Some people are very touch-oriented, while one hug is enough for others for a week. The problem is that unless you meet your hunger needs, you may be living a life of feeling lonely and sad.
The good news is that skin hunger is not a permanent condition. The way to reverse the adverse effects is to find the saturation you need through human touch and interaction.
So what's the touch that people hunger for ??
When you are touched by another person, it is not just about the feeling of the touch itself. There are studies that indicate that there is a range of different emotions associated with a touch that elicits physiological responses in the body.
Only a hug can lower your levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Other studies in France concluded that teenagers engaged in human touch were more likely to show fewer signs of general aggression than their cohorts.
To be continued.