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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
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I Found That Story Very "Touching"

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Jan 18th 2011

I Found That Story Very If you think about it there are many idiomatic references to the word "touch." As in the title above, we may find a romantic story very "touching." He or she "Touched my heart." "I embraced her ideas," "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine." "That was a real pat on the back from my boss."

In fact, there are many non verbal expressions of touch in many aspects of our daily lives. If you watch football, baseball and football, you can see players express their emotions through touch. In a successful scoring play, they will bump chests, slap the behind of the player who had a successful play, give high fives to one another and even embrace at the end of a game.

We meet and greet and part from each other by shaking hands, kissing or hugging, depending on the kind of relationship we have with the others. Good friends may embrace and kiss. Men in the United States are more likely to shake hands. In France and other nations, men greet by kissing each side of the cheek. Here, in the United States, I have one friend, with a strong European background, who makes a point of kissing each side of my cheek upon greeting and parting.

I always had a certain number of patients who complained that they could not remember their mom hugging or touching them. Of course, they admitted that during infancy they probably were touched. On one occasion, a patient expressed frustration and loneliness that no one ever touches them and they need that physical contact.

In the Positive Psychology News Daily, writer Kathryn Britton wrote an article entitled, "Touch and Trust" in which she reports on research that shows the importance of touching in our lives. Touching, hugging, hand shaking, kissing and other examples of tactile human contact, all express warmth, trust, affection and an endless variety of positive emotions, more than words could ever do. The impact is shown in performance

1. Team players who touch, as described above, perform better the more frequently they engage in this behavior.

2. Married and other intimate couples feel closer and more assured if they frequently touch. Many people give a warm embrace before leaving for work. We hug our children as they leave for school. A husband may rub his wife's feet. Some people rub soap onto their partner's back in the bath tub.

3. There is research that shows that touching reduces blood pressure.

4. Studies show that waiters or waitresses who give a light pat on the shoulder receive higher tips. I have noticed this myself. I have also noticed that I have a very positive reaction to that minor contact.

5. When stressed, touch has a calming effect, more than all the verbal expressions in the world.

You can find more information on the importance of touching at this URL:

You can also find the article on witch this is based

This is called positive psychology because you can learn to incorporate these behaviors into your daily life even if you are not accustomed to it. The fact is that, as human beings, we need touch. It helps us feel better in endless number of ways. Try it, you will like it. Hug your children, wife or husband, shake hands with that neighbor or stranger you are meeting, etc.

What are your experiences with touch, whether its having it or not? Can you describe how the experiences or lack of experience have helped or hurt you?

Your comments are strongly welcomed.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD


Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Touching and Sensory Reaction - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Jan 19th 2011

Hi Linda,

Your excellent comments just go to prove that there are always exceptions to everything. Yes, people with PPD and Autims spectrum disorders and people with other types of sensory disorders, find it difficult to allow others to touch or hug them. Of course, it is always hoped that with the proper psychological intervention, including training and behavior modification, they can reduce their aversion to this very basic human need.

It is also true that none of us want to be touched all the time and by anyone. There are many times when a person does not feel like they want touching and find those who are insistent very difficult to deal with without getting very angry.

Thank you for your comments and good luck with your son.

Dr. Schwartz 


"Touching" and Sensory Reaction - Linda - Jan 19th 2011

Hi Allan I read you article and I too also react well to "giving" a hug or kiss to my many friends and family members. But I don't always react the same when receiving a hug or kiss from the friends I encounter on a fairly frequent basis.  

Also, I have a son who has PDD (pervasive developmental disorder) a part of the Autism spectrum, and although he is 14 and is experimenting with peoples reactions to his "touches",  he does not like to be hugged or kissed at all. So as a parent it is hard not to give him that calming expressive feeling of a hug or kiss but I respect his needs.

And I feel there are alot of people who might have some negative reactions to that issue of sensory so I guess it is important to know and understand who can and can't be "touched".

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