Behind Closed Doors: Gender, Sexuality, and Touch in the Doctor/Patient Relationship

By Angelica Redleaf; Susan A. Baird | Go to book overview
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Touch

TOUCH: to put the hand, finger or some other part of the body on, so as to feel; perceive by the sense of feeling.

Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, 1994

How we're touched, when we're touched, where we're touched, who touches us, and what are the reasons for the touch--all of these affect how we respond to touch. It is an individual matter that is based on our being mammals, and primates, and humans, on our gender, on our cultures' attitudes about touch, on our families' attitudes about touch, on our own particular likes and dislikes, and on our particular histories of experience with touch.

Also important is our readiness for touch: Is this a context in which we expect to be touched? Wish to be touched? Are we feeling uneasy. Vulnerable? Needy? Sensual? Have we been getting enough touch lately. These are all factors that influence our response to touch.

"The greatest sense in our body is our touch sense," J. Lionel Taylor wrote in his book The Stages of Human Life. "It is probably the chief sense in the processes of sleeping and waking; it gives us our knowledge of depth or thickness and form; we feel, we love and hate, are touchy and are touched, through the touch corpuscles of our skin." 1


PERCEPTION AND TOUCH

The skin represents much more than just an integument designed to keep the skeleton from falling apart . . . it is in its own right a complex and fascinating organ. In addition to being the largest organ of the body, the various elements comprising the

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