THE MAGIC OF TOUCH

  


STRANGE DISEASES were attacking children at an orphanage. the doctors were puzzled. If you walked through the rooms you'd see these tiny tots gaze at you with a haunting stare. how odd they looked -more like shriveled up old men and women.

You heard no laughter, no sounds of children at play. They were slow to learn to stand and walk. Deep moans and long sighs were common. They had little appetite for food, became ill and died easily. The puzzled doctors did not know what was wrong. Hence, they did not know what to do. 

Then, some wise soul with a healthy mothering instinct made a suggestion. She suggested some teenage girls from the local high school be invited to visit the orphanage. She then instructed these girls to become intimate with the children. She told them to pick the babies up, caress them, pet them, and fondle them.

As if by magic, a miracle was wrought. The fondling, petting  and caressing made a dramatic, healthy change in the children. It was so obvious at the first session that the girls were invited to visit the orphanage again and again.

Again and again the tots were held, caressed, petted, and fondled.  And with every visit the blessed transformation continued. The children's posture improved. They lost their look of old age.

They now smiled, gurgled, and laughed. They no longer became easily ill. They started to sparkle with life. It was apparent these children had been starving for simple HUMAN PHYSICAL AFFECTION.

This story sets one to wonder: What is there about the sense of TOUCH that can bring about such a miracle? Why is it our lives tend to become empty, hard, sick, and indifferent without the touch of someone we love?

Why do we seem to lose our sense of will and purpose without this loving touch? Some experiments in sensory deprivation have been performed with human volunteers. While physically confined, they were subject to no sounds, no sights, no temperature changes.

Such deprivation of normal sensory input led their minds to wander. They entered the world of fantasy. They began to hallucinate. EXTENSIVE and INTENSIVE SENSORY DEPRIVATION is not healthy for grown-ups.

It apparently is not healthy for infants and children as well. As long as we have a BODY, the world of sensory input is important. Touch is probably the least explored of our senses. Yet, it may be the most important to our well-being.

Significantly enough, there is a close relationship between our SKIN and our NERVOUS SYSTEM. In the early days, in our mother's womb, our body-to-be is composed of THREE sets of SPECIAL CELLS.

[1] One set [MESODERM] will form our MUSCLES and BONES.
[2] Another set [ENDODERM] will form our INNER ORGANS such as the STOMACH, INTESTINES, and LUNGS.
[3] Third set [ECTODERM] forms our NERVOUS SYSTEM and our SKIN.

Thus our SKIN arises from the same tissue as our BRAIN. Skin can be looked upon as the OUTER BRAIN or extension of the brain. Its profuse sensory receptors are full of NERVES and SENSORY END organs that if we could see only a person's nervous system we'd have no trouble outlining the complete shape of the body.

One may wonder which has the most nerve tissue. Is it the CORTEX which covers the BRAIN? Or is it the SKIN which covers the body?