The Value of Human Closeness

Can we measure the value of human touch and physical closeness?

“Sisters” Kim Blenkhorn

Presently, with Covid-19 invading the peoples of the world social distancing has not only become the new normal, it is being enforced with the threat of fines. Only in private home behind closed doors are we permitted to show affection to family members.

However, the benefits short term may be of social distancing, I believe we are being short sighted. Does “social distancing really save lives?” Who are the largest population of people who are dying from this virus? Isn’t it people who are not social, could the elderly people have weakened immune systems because they have not been exposed to enough social interactions? The elderly and even the high risks are often bound in nursing care facilities, 88-90% of those infected are recovering. Is staying away from each other really saving lives, or is it preventing a mostly mild illness from naturally vaccinating you and building your immunities? These are some questions i am asking myself right now. Is it really right of us to stamp this belief onto the minds especially of fearful people. Have we been indoctrinated by big business media? Why are the fearful? The media has made people fearful. If we are only measuring social distancing and 6 feet by one factor “air droplets and infections” are we doing an injustice to the benefits of social closeness and human touch and therefore an injustice to the health of humanity?

Every decision we ought to make in life is weighed out by both pro’s and cons? what benefits are we missing out on and is it worth losing? Here are some interesting facts to make an educated decision for our own personal social lives, otherwise i fear between social distancing and social media we may lose the value, benefits and even understanding of human intimacy and real time closeness. Human touch far extends beyond the boundaries of sharing bad germs even beyond skin and physical sensations. COnsider that our skin makes up the largest organ in our body, it covers our entire body and all systems are unified, meaning what effects one system effects all the systems.

“Touching, and being touched, activates particular areas of our brain, thus influencing our thought processes, reactions, and even physiological responses.

For example, one study reports that brain scans have revealed that affective touch activates the orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region associated with learning and decision-making as well as with emotional and social behaviors.” –Medical news today sept. 2018

listen to the health benefits they list in their article:

The benefits of affective touch expand to measures of physical health as well as mental health and social relations.

One study published in 2014 in the journal Psychological Science suggested that the stress buffer provided by shared hugs actually has a protective effect against respiratory infections.

Also, among the people who did become ill, those who received emotional support in the form of affective touches showed less severe symptoms of infection.

Other studies showed that, in romantic couples where the partners share frequent hugs, women tend to have lower blood pressure and heart rates, which suggests that this type of contact can benefit the heart literally, not just metaphorically.

Romantic kisses also help boost the immune system, research has demonstrated. When we kiss, we transfer “80 million bacteria per intimate kiss of 10 [seconds],” scientists report.This may sound disgusting, but it is beneficial; this microbial exchange acts almost like a vaccine, familiarizing the immune system with potential new bacterial threats and strengthening its effectiveness against a more varied array of pathogens.”

There Health Benefits to human closeness and touch? Than what are the health concerns of social distancing long term? and what patterns are we learning and making?

Would this explain why the elderly are the most susceptible to coronavirus as the most untouched people group and why teenagers, the heavy kissing population are most immune?

psychology today says this in an article – by Maia Szalavitz

Touching Empathy

Lack of physical affection can actually kill babies.

Posted Mar 01, 2010

Babies who are not held, nuzzled, and hugged enough can stop growing, and if the situation lasts long enough, even die.

Researchers discovered this when trying to figure out why some orphanages had infant mortality rates around 30-40%. We now know that orphanages are not suitable places for infants. Babies aged zero to five simply do not receive enough stimulation in group residential care to develop to their full capacity.

We connect first through soothing touch and shared smiles. SHe ends her article with this: So, if you want empathetic children—and an empathetic culture—touch and be touched.

I’m sure mothers are not neglecting to touch their babies because of corona, and in fact with the stay at home order may be doing a lot more snuggling; however consider : if lack of healthy regular touch can lead to a stunted growth or death in a baby human what effects would it have on a grown up version. Human beings, no matter the size or age are all made up of the same materials ?

I am concerned about our culture right now. I am concerned that if this quarantine and strict social distancing order are enforced, that society will adopt this much like we have adopted social media as a replacement for social relations. What might this look like in the future? A population who has little to no empathy, little to no connection, wouldn’t the Nazi’s have loved an oppurtunity like covid-19 to breed his regime? but we are not them RIGHT? A world with little empathy would be a dangerous place to live for the weak or non-compliant. I am concerned for our society right now. Will mental illness become the norm and non thinkers and non learners common? So much fear has been instilled into the public in regards to other peoples and being close people are not even calling each other on the telephone. The world is a vulnerable place right now filled with frightened people, more than ever we need to comfort and be close to one another. This feels like a sick experiment.

We are human. Humans need touch, and closeness. We need to connect, see smiles, hug, greet with a hand shake, stand shoulder to shoulder, work beside one another, sweat on eachother, high five and play parallel to one another. Neighbors and extended family need to eat together and hold hands. These are basic human needs and rights no matter the cost, but the more i read the more i realize the cost of losing them far exceeds the gains when we practice them.

What sort of people will it produce in the long run? If we trade healthy physical touch and human closeness for a few days of good health, what will the future look like? never in human history has this sort of experiment been conducted that is being conducted on americans presently. We will regret it if the country doesn’t begin to shift into a different reality one of presence. Please lift the ban on social distancing.

I realize I could be stoned for this in another century. I just think its something we ought to consider, rather than letting our fears determine the order of the day. Jesus touched a leper, an unclean and rejected member of society. In order to keep leprosy at bay these infectious people were made to stay outside of the cities where people were, they had to social distance, and then there was Jesus. He touched the leper. He defied the rules why? because he knew he was immune? because he wanted to rebel? perhaps he knew the benefit to the lepers soul to be touched by another human being. In the end the Leper was healed and the Jesus was crucified for his acts of compassion. Where are we allowed to touch lepers, and show human compassion right now?

We must look to the family unit even now months in, as a model, a preserver and keeper of connection. It is the family unit who only in their own homes are permitted to practice what healthy human affection looks like. Since it is only there behind the walls of private residence where it is not against the law to stand closer than 6 feet. Families have a great oppurtunity.

Please hug when you the chance, hug your teens especially. They have been pulled from all their typical social interactions and tend to be quite unlovable at home, but what they might need the most and never ask for is a hug. Let your toddlers climb up on your lap and snuggle, hold your baby tight when they are crying, soothe an aging parent or spouse with a back rub or hold hands while sitting on the couch. Living in such close quarters no doubt has had a toll on the affection we feel for one another, I wonder if affection will somehow have the power to reverse that. Make no mistake we are losing something precious every day of social distancing. Perhaps if we begin to touch more in healthy ways defying social distancing at least in our own homes, we may learn to be more patient, more forgiving, more tender and gentle, less annoyed more empathetic and more importantly isn’t vital that these children grow up with some understanding of society ought to look like, learning how to be close, connected and empathetic.

Hebrews 10:25

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do the social distancing costs outweigh the benefits of closeness?

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