Touched. Some idle speculation.

Touched.  Some idle speculation.

What a lot the pseudo-medicine offer patients, besides time, is touch. Lots of touch, and touch is nice. Even something as totally wackaloon as craniosacral therapy looks quite pleasant if the underlying goofiness is removed. Lying on your back, half asleep, as your head is gently massaged. Looks relaxing to me. I once had a colleague who mentioned he liked haircuts as he found the shampoo and massage relaxing.

In animals social grooming, touch, has many salubrious physiologic effects and there is no reason to suspect that human touch would be any different.

There is an acupuncture clinic in town that has a video of their practice. If you can get past the infection control issues, the whole process looks really pleasant; nice people wrapping you in a blanket while you relax and people gently touch you, albiet with needles.

I would bet that touch is often lacking in most medical interactions and when touch is used it is for diagnostic not therapeutic reasons. In the clinic or hospital, touch is not an intrinsically comfortable or relaxing experience, especially with gloves and stethoscopes between us and the patient. And no doctor in this era wants a reputation for extra touching.

I wonder how much of the favorable effects of many pseudo-medicines are related to touch and its relaxing effects.

Today the 15th book of the Dresden Files, Skin Game, was released and I was reading it on my drive to work (Yes, listening to an audio book is reading it. Pedant) and I heard the following:

There’s power in the touch of another person’s hand. We acknowledge it in little ways, all the time. There’s a reason human beings shake hands, hold hands, slap hands, bump hands.

It comes from our very earliest memories, when we all come into the world blinded by light and color, deafened by riotous sound, flailing in a sudden cavernous space without any way of orienting ourselves, shuddering with cold, emptied with hunger, and justifiably frightened and confused. And what changes that first horror, that original state of terror?

The touch of another person’s hands.

Hands that wrap us in warmth, that hold us close. Hands that guide us to shelter, to comfort, to food. Hands that hold and touch and reassure us through our very first crisis, and guide us into our very first shelter from pain. The first thing we ever learn is that the touch of someone else’s hand can ease pain and make things better.

That’s power. That’s power so fundamental that most people never even realize it exists.

I wonder if it is also most of the power behind pseudo-medicines.

Points of Interest 5/28/2014
Points of Interest 5/27/2014