The Taser's Edge

More Touching

I kind of hate sex-based generalities (and I really hate when authors use their professional titles, all of which fairly easy to legitimately gain in some fashion and none of which evidencing actual expertise, hence “John Gray, Ph.D.“) and yet here’s an astonishing thought or three from Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson (who is actually a legit psychologist), pp. 191-192:

We have a vital need from our earliest moments to the end of our days for touch, observes Tiffany Field, a developmental psychologist at the University of Massachusetts, who argues that North Americans are among the world’s least tactile people and suffer from “touch hunger.”  [Reference: Touch by Tiffany Field (MIT, 2003)]  In children, a lack of touch, of holding and caressing, seems to slow the growth of the brain and the development of emotional intelligence, that is, the ability to organize emotions.

Men may be particularly vulnerable to touch hunger.  Field points out that right from birth, boys are held for shorter periods and caressed less often than are girls.  As adults, men seem to be less responsive to tender touch than are women, but in the men I see, they crave it just as much as do the women.  Men do not ask to be held, either because of cultural conditioning (real men don’t hug) or lack of skill (they don’t know how to ask).  I think of this whenever my female clients complain that men are obsessed with sex.  I would be, too, if sex were the only place apart from the football field where I ever got touched or held…

We cannot funnel all of our attachment needs for physical and emotional connection into the bedroom.  When we try, our sex life disintegrates under the weight of those needs.

My basic thoughts are along the lines of (1) wondering how this sex-based difference in touching received from a young age forms “maleness” and (2) if I ever have a son, I’ll be more aware of how I relate to him tactilely.