Gabor Maté

“Tactile contact is the newborn’s earliest experience of the world. It is how we first receive love. Mammalian mothers invariably provide tactile stimulation to their offspring, for instance, rats by licking their pups, primates by stroking them.

Ashley Montague writes in his superb book Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin, “The various forms in which the newborn and young receive it is of prime importance for their healthy physical and behavioural development. It appears probable that, for human beings, tactile stimulation is of fundamental significance for the development of healthy emotional or affectional relationships, that ‘licking,’ in its actual and in its figurative sense, and love are closely connected; in short, that one learns love not by instruction, but by being loved.”

From animal experiments, it is known that physical touching induces growth-hormone production, promoting better weight gain and development. These findings also apply to human beings. In a study of premature babies, incubated infants were divided into two groups. All their nutritional and other conditions were identitical, except for one variable: one group was given fifteen minutes of tactile stimulation three times a day over a period of two weeks. “Providing this form of stimulation to these babies resulted in significant acceleration of weight gain, increased
head circumference, and improved behavioural indices,” compared with the control group.”


Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress
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When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress by Gabor Maté
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