In view of National Fibromyalgia Day today I was reviewing some of my therapeutic visual journals. When I came across these pages I did some time ago I recalled the studies done on baby Chimps.
In the 1960’s, Harry Harlow did research on baby monkeys and touch deprivation. The baby monkeys were well cared for except they were touch deprived. They had no contact from other monkeys and little contact with their human researchers. They were put into a cage with fake mother monkeys made of wire mesh with bottle of formula attached for the baby monkeys to drink. A second fake mother Monkey was made of soft and furry material with no bottle.
The baby monkeys clung to the soft mother monkey for hours. They would not go to the wire mother for food. Older monkeys would cling to the cloth monkey and when hungry would go to the wire monkey for brief periods of time to eat. When frightened all infant monkeys went to the cloth mother.
Before this discovery children in orphanages often grew sick and died from failure to thrive or when adopted had “attachment disorders”. Based on Harlow’s discovery no one knew that these symptoms were a result of touch deprivation.
Some other findings:
- In the 1970’s, James W. Prescott researched 400 cultures around the world. He found that societies that lavished more affection on infants and young children and were tolerant of teenagers expressing sexual affection towards one another were less violent than other societies.
- Seniors who are touched on a regular basis are healthier and less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- Pre-mature babies who are touched on a regular basis gain weight more quickly than babies who are not touched.
- Healthy touch from another person slows the heart rate, decreases the levels of cortisol in the system, and eases anxiety.