What Is in a Touch?

Did you know that there are five major types of hugs? Did you also know that the type of hug you give another person is determined by the type of relationship you have with them, your social surroundings, and the need for ease of detachment? If you didn’t know this, you are probably thinking I am too analytical. If you did know this, maybe you understand where I am coming from.

Believe it or not, this knowledge has not come from an in depth psychological study, or from hours of pondering the intricacies of hugging. It actually has developed as a part of my understanding of a world that I do not understand.

What does this mean? It means that, each time I am touched, my body is startled. It sends shock waves to my brain, and my brain reacts to minimize the impending damage that may be caused if the “threat” is not processed immediately. This damage is an avalanche of emotions that were repressed during my childhood.

Because the touches I experienced as a child were generally disciplinary or sexual, appropriate touch is often difficult for me to place. Casual, comforting, and loving touches create great turmoil in my mind because it does not know which emotions belong to which touches. It is hard to have relationships because I do not know what I really feel and what is being “manufactured” by the confusion created by touch. This confusion tends to cause me to decide to break off relationships for fear that I may find myself “feeling” things that I do not really feel.

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