Touch Is a Touchy Topic: Hugging Is … Good? Maybe I don’t want a hug?

You can read the introduction here.

*An evil fairy approaches*

Evil Fairy: I curse you that you will never hug or be hugged again for the rest of your life.
Sara: Really?
Evil Fairy: Yes, you will never hug again, MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
Sara: *shrugs*
Evil Fairy: But you will never hug again!
Sara: And?
Evil Fairy: You may be cocky now, but without hugs, you will turn into a lonely sad shadow of a person!
Sara: I’ve gone long periods of time without hugs while being pretty happy…
Evil Fairy: You’re deluding yourself!
Sara: Whatever, bye.

*Sara leaves*

I had a teacher in elementary school who told us, according to An Expert (who possibly was Virginia Satir), we all needed x number of hugs per day to be healthy. And then the teacher asked us how many of us were getting the minimum quota of hugs. None of us were. So the teacher told us that, to meet our quota, we had to hug ourselves many times per day.

I didn’t like this. We already had to do our homework and brush our teeth, now we had to hug many times every single day too?

We all had to hug each other during this lesson, and some bullies in the class make a point of how disgusting it would be to hug me. I definitely did not want to hug them either, but they turned it into an opportunity to bully me some more. The teacher was well aware that these students were in the habit of bullying me yet it didn’t occur to her that they would exploit this mandatory hug session.

While trying to find out who was behind this assignment of daily hugs, I came across the article “10 Reasons Why We Need at Least 8 Hugs a Day”. Here are my reactions:

1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.

Sometimes I’ve hugged people because I didn’t trust them and didn’t feel safe, and I felt that I would be more threatened if I didn’t hug them. Strangely, I didn’t start trusting them or feeling safe after the hugs. Futhermore, it sure did not feel like open and honest communication to me. If I were being open and honest, I probably would not have included the hug.

2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.

Sex can also boost oxytocin levels. If this is a reason why people should hug, it’s also a reason why people should have sex. And as anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I am against compulsory sexuality.

3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.

I think it’s obvious by now that I don’t associate hugging with happiness.

4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.

I don’t know about the science behind this, but I have observed pleasant effects from gentle pressure on the sternum. Hugging is not necessary for this effect.

5. Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the time we’re born our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.

Here we get to the heart of the matter! A lot of my feelings about touching people comes from childhood experiences with my parents, and self-love is an important part of this as well. This is going to be the topic of my next post!

I don’t think I need to continue responding to this article. I think you all get the idea.


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6 thoughts on “Touch Is a Touchy Topic: Hugging Is … Good? Maybe I don’t want a hug?

  1. Late to the party, but yeah.
    “Hug grandma or else I will be angry because she will be insufferable.” Or so the sublimial message went.
    And yikes, did that woman know how to be insufferable.
    So, I totally understand about the threat value of hugs. Even though I don’t hate them as a rule.

  2. Pingback: December 2014 Carnival of Aces Roundup | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

  3. When I was living in Japan one summer, one of the girls in my class burst into the classroom, yelled, “I’M STARVED FOR HUMAN AFFECTION,” and then hurled herself across her desk before being swarmed by all the other students in the class who offered her hugs. Apparently the fact that no one had touched her for 6 weeks was upsetting–I had just thought it was a nice bonus. Needless to say, I do really well in low-touch cultures.

    • I presume your fellow students were not Japanese.

      I was also fine with the Japanese people not touching me. I did hug a few people in Japan, but they were Japanese people I got to know a little bit, and they asked for permission.

      • Oh, yes, this was a study-abroad program, so all my classmates were Americans (but were living with Japanese host families).

        I think I’ve hugged, like, one Japanese person in Japan, and that was ’cause I hung out at her shrine for a year and was moving back to the States, and she wanted to say goodbye in the “real American way.”

      • The Japanese people who I hugged were people who were living in the countryside by choice (i.e. they could live in the cities, but they didn’t want to), yet were not, say, traditionally-minded (in fact, they were generally very interested in foreign cultures, which might explain why they wanted to associate with me).

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