Psychology of the human touch at an early age.

The study of human behaviorAn important factor in growth and development. Similar to food, water and air, the human touch is another one of our basic needs as we have a constant desire to be connected with others. This is a innate need originates from within the womb and being the first sense we develop from 8 weeks inside the warm confines of the womb it can become apparent that physical touch is a vital part of our lives and we need it to survive, interact with our surroundings and stimulate growth.

What happens if we do not develop touch early on
If touch is not developed early on especially the first six months after birth the new born can suffer from physiological consequences such as being underweight, the immune system would not be fully developed and this can make the child more vulnerable to diseases and the child would be sick more consistently and generally be undernourished, brain development will be affected also giving the infant an increased level of cortisol which is a stress hormone which in large amounts can damage the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved with memory and learning. In worst case scenarios where the child has been extensively deprived of physical touch the child can actually die. 

An article in the Scientific American explains that children who suffer from deprivation of touch early on have altered levels of oxytocin (a hormone present in breast milk) and vasepressin which are deemed important in social bonding. In regards to mother and infant bonding touch is key, the very act of breast feeding has bonding elements to it, the close loving touch, the warm embrace, eye contact and even the smell of the mothers body and clothes strengthen bonding as it all relates to physical closeness. Research shows that infants smile more when in physical contact than an other interaction including a parent and child and similarly the parent of smiles a lot more also in kind. Contrary, lack of bonding and attachment in an adults early life results in the said adult being emotionally withdrawn, angry, upset, cold, often depressed and overall an unsociable individual.
The study of human behavior
Growth and health.
Touch is vital for human development, failing to actively take care of this results in a failure to thrive in their surrounding environment and the ability to properly grow. Young infants and babies who are not touched also have a lack of growth hormone and as a result of this it can stunt a child's growth, this transcends also to a child's immune system where their bodies are more likely to struggle against diseases making them more likely to contract illnesses.

Prevention is better than cure
Human contact should be at abundance in the early life of a baby and not restricted to not just the mother but the father should get involved as well, though fathers tend not to get involved as much they should be encouraged to share physical contact so the baby is overall more relaxed and secure due to the bonding process as a family unit as opposed to just having one source of regular human contact, i.e. only the mother. Touch between the mother and father can promote healthy bonding ensuring the infant develop and grow better psychologically and socially later in life. 

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  1. BA in Psychology, Syracuse University, New York, USA Private psychologist

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