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Creating Waves of Awareness

When was the last time something ‘touched’ you? Do you know someone who has ‘the common touch’? And isn’t it nice when you experience ‘the personal touch’?

Physical contact is so important to human beings that it is hardwired into our language, but these days we may be ‘out of touch’ with just how central a need this is. Here Mark Tyrrell takes a look at what the research says about touch – including one startling finding that lack of human touch can actually kill!

Science Studies Touch

The scientific study of touch began by accident back in the 1920’s when a researcher Fredrick Hammett removed certain vital glands from rats. To his amazement some of the rats survived the procedure. Even more surprisingly, most of the rats who survived came from a colony which had been regularly petted by their owners. These rats were less timid, apprehensive and highly strung than the less handled rats. The petted rats were six times more likely to survive the operation than non-handled rats.

Loved babies

In the 1940’s a doctor, Fritz Talbot, visited a children’s clinic in Dseldorf. The wards were neat and tidy, but something caught his attention. He noticed an old, rather plump woman carrying a sickly looking baby on her hip. He asked the medical director who this woman was. ‘Oh, she’s old Anna’, came the reply. ‘When we have exhausted all medical possibilities for a baby we give it to her to hold and stroke. She always seems to be successful!’

This observation and others led to big changes in the way some ‘foundling’ institutions were run. Bellevue hospital in New York instituted a new policy: every baby was to be picked up, held, touched, gentled and mothered several times a day. The death rate for infants plummeted to less than 10%. A vital human need had been discovered; touch.

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Comment by Dr Muhammed Rafeeque on October 27, 2012 at 6:00am

nowadays there is a gap between the present generation of doctors with their patients. The gap is mainly filled by the instruments and modern techniques. Also they way of selection is medical schools is also responsible. Medical entrance tests give value for the ability to answer multiple choice questions, not humanness and the love for the fellow human beings.

Comment by Dr Rajneesh Kumar Sharma MD(Hom) on October 26, 2012 at 12:58am

Some what like touch and heal...

Comment by Fiaz Ahmad Khan on October 25, 2012 at 10:10am

A patient thoroughly examined and having been touched on affected parts of the body by the Dr. really feels relieved of much of his suffering emotionally, if not physically.  This aspect of the 'touch' needs more attention of the physicians than we usually do.   

Comment by Dr Muhammed Rafeeque on October 25, 2012 at 7:16am

Recently I visited a bedridden old woman. She was undergoing treatment in a big hospital, but she left the treatment against the medical advice. I asked her the reason. She said, "I was in the hospital for almost ten days, but the physician did not examined me, not even touched my painful joints, but he was only interested in doing lab tests and prescribing bitter tablets."

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