I watched the panic in my friend’s eyes when her newborn child made first contact with this world. “Quick! Put the baby on your chest. Make sure she gets skin contact”. Sure enough, her husband was already cradling the babe on his chest at peace with the miracle of holding life in his arms. In my friend’s urgent voice – I felt the fear of seeing so many people who had suffered from the lack of human touch and so many children deprived of what is normal human affection. My friend is a child psychologist and has worked with disturbed kids (and adults) for many years. Some of the disturbed children came from families who lacked the basics of bonding that come from human loving touch.
If a child grows up without touch, adult stimulation and interaction, they do not know how to appropriately connect with others, they lack empathy, the ability to imagine what it’s like to be in someone else’s skin, the ability to process feelings. These traits exist in a lot of us – kids or adults – the inability to understand others is one example. It is very simple to blame someone. It takes more cognitive processes and ability to listen to your own feelings in order to process understanding of others’ actions without blaming them for their actions.
In my friend’s experience the importance of the child having contact with the skin was vital to give the newborn a safe new world order. So the child moves from fluid suspension to the tenderness of skin and nurturing touch. In the first hours of transition from uterus to “earth” the child becomes reconditioned to a whole new language for their sensory nervous system. We spend the rest of our lives adjusting to and seeking the nurturing touch that re-establishes our world after leaving the womb.
Research has found direct correlation between nurturing touch on a child’s brain development. Basically, if the child does not receive touch, the brain cannot develop neural pathways that allow the brain to process new information, learn how to love, how to form functional relationships with other humans and how to manage your environment. Without the nurturing reassurance of the parent, the new born will withdraw and shut down emotional pathways which then stops different parts of the brain communicating with each other and that prevents the emotional fluidity required to develop evolving exchange of emotion in relationships.
In my movement practice, I see women and men who have forgotten a childhood freedom in their bodies. I use dance and movement to teach women and men how to love their body and express themselves. In private sessions I encounter the beliefs created by the emotional body, where the body and mind have made certain beliefs about how the person should be, behave and feel. These beliefs are influenced by their cultural experience and their parental patterns. The strongest pattern comes from the contrast between the lineage of family patterns of emotional bonding and ex