Love and the healing power of touch are essential to our wellbeing because they makes us feel safe, cared for and less stressed. When were you last touched? To find out more, the BBC conducted a survey called The Touch Test on this much under-researched sense. The survey ran between January and March this year. Almost 44,000 people took part from 112 different countries. There is a series of programmes and articles about the results of the survey. Here are the highlights for us from a few of the items published:

The three most common words used to describe touch are: “comforting”, “warm” and “love”. It’s striking that “comforting” and “warm” were among the three most common words that people used in every region of the world.

  1. More than half of people think they don’t have enough touch in their lives. In the survey, 54% of people said they had too little touch in their lives and only 3% said they had too much. 
  2. People who like interpersonal touch tend to have higher levels of well-being and lower levels of loneliness. Many previous studies have demonstrated too that consensual touch is good for us physiologically and psychologically. 
  3. We use different kinds of nerve fibres to detect different kinds of touch.
Special nerves

“Fast nerve fibres respond when our skin is pricked or poked, relaying messages to an area of the brain called the somatosensory cortex. But in recent years, the neuroscientist Professor Francis McGlone has been studying another type of nerve fibre (known as afferent C fibres) which conducts information at around a fiftieth of the speed of the other kind. They relay the information to a different part of the brain called the insular cortex – an area which also processes taste and emotion. So why has this slow system developed as well as the fast one? Francis McGlone believes slow fibres are there to promote social bonding through gentle stroking of the skin.”

The Healing Power of Gentle Touch

In a world that promotes fast, hyper-stimulating porn sex that more often than not models violent, coercive sex, it is valuable to remember that humans thrive on gentle loving touch as it makes us feel safe and loved, vital to our well being and survival.