Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Skin as a Social Organ. Part 2d: Learning to sit still, learning to behave, learning to not be connected to oneself.

The paper, The skin as a social organ

Previous introductory blogpost to this series.    Preamble: Random thoughts on spas

Part 1: Dual nature of touch: as PTs, do we "get" this? Part 1a: Touch can be pleasant, rilling Part 1b: Vallbo on C-tactiles 

Part 2a: Different kinds of touch Part 2b: Proxemics Part 2c: The sad dearth of manual therapy aspects in reviews of interpersonal touch

We continue with the paper:
"Effects of touch in social interactions have been found to increase liking of a person or place, and to facilitate a footing of trust or compliance, often manifesting in increased prosocial behavior. For example, a half-second of hand-to-hand touch from a librarian fostered more favorable impressions of the library (Fisher et al. 1976), touching by a salesperson increased positive evaluations of the store (Hornik 1992), and touch can also boost the attractiveness ratings of the toucher (Burgoon et al. 1992). Recipients of such ‘‘simple’’ touches are also more likely to be more compliant or unselfish: returning money left in a public phone (Kleinke 1977), spending more money in a shop (Hornik 1992), tipping more in a restaurant (Crusco and Wetzel 1984), or giving away a cigarette (Joule and Guéguen 2007). The greater degree of compliance, or even generosity, with resources in these studies implies that such rudimentary social touches can potentially provide a platform for trust and cooperation in future exchanges." 
  1. Fisher JD, Rytting M, Heslin R (1976) Hands touching hands: affective and evaluative effects of an interpersonal touchSociometry 39:416–421 (Preview)
  2. Hornik J (1992) Tactile stimulation and consumer response.Consum Res 19:449–458 (full text)
  3. Burgoon JK, Walther JB, Baesler EJ (1992) Interpretations, evaluations, and consequences of interpersonal touch. Hum Comm Res 19:237–263
  4. Kleinke CL (1977) Compliance to requests made by gazing and touching experimenters in field settings. J Exp Soc Psych 13:218–223
  5. Crusco AH, Wetzel CG (1984) The Midas touch: the effects of interpersonal touch on restaurant tipping. Personal Soc Psych Bull 10:512–517
  6. Joule RV, Guéguen N (2007) Touch, compliance, and awareness of tactile contact. Percept Mot Skills 104:581–588

Well, there seems to be quite a bit of interest in, and study of, how to create a good impression with interpersonal touching. Most of looks like it has to do with social manipulation, deception, priming non-conscious brain function by touching in a way that is deliberate, but that touchees don't even notice. Distracting the touchees so that they don't even notice that somebody (in on the project) touched them right in the critter brain, bypassing their human brain, or at least disarming it so that it doesn't make a "thing" out of having been touched without permission. 

Not that it isn't easy enough for the human part of the brain to be distracted away from the critter brain most of the time, anyway - maybe because of the "proxemics" we touch-deprived, northerly, cold-climate, big-personal-space, culturally-imprisoned human primates have allowed our culture to train us into from childhood, generation after generation. 

Earlier today I listened to a radio program, Ontario Today, What Every Parent Should Know About School, an interview with Michael Reist. Not that I have ever had any kids, or am remotely interested in what school is like these days; however, the radio was on while I was buried in a photoshop project, and bits crept in.. 

Apparently educators find themselves feeling as overwhelmed by neuroscience as I do. Apparently a few have woke up to the fact that the institutions they are part of, proud to represent even, are dinosaurs modelled after sausage factories. Much like my own is. 

Apparently a few have done enough reading to realize that every kid is an individual who would turn into a way more successful adult (happier, more creative, smarter, confident, etc.) if they were treated as such; taught according to whatever learning style they inherently possess, had contact with nature, had contact with lots of people of different ages (the better to build mental representations of diverse "other" instead of being pancaked into a group of 25 kids all the same age, none of whom can learn to relate to any other age, therefore), were allowed to move around, weren't bullied or accused of being stupid or fat (by the teacher! right in front of the child! and the parent!).

Apparently it is dawning on a few people that just because they enjoyed sitting quietly, listening, learning, taking notes, this method of transferring knowledge just doesn't work for lots of kids, for whom school, as graded exposure to being distanced from their own critter brains, doesn't feel good. It just stresses them out. Or in any event, stresses out their little critter brains. 

Then the kid grows up into an adult whose brain has neuroplasticized around huge school-induced social stress. 

I count myself lucky that I attended a prairie one-room school, nature right outside. The same room,  same teacher, from grade 1 through grade 8. Eight years in one room. Sometimes only one kid in a grade, sometimes as many as three, usually only 12 or 13 kids in the whole room. By the time I got to the grade 8 sized desks on the north side of the room, away from the grade 1 sized desks on the south side, by the big windows you could gaze out periodically to give your brain a rest, I was 8 years older, quite a bit taller, I had heard all the material 8 times, and easily passed all the exams. I'd played softball with kids much older, and much younger. Fairness had been installed - I could relate, at a kid level, anyway, to other kids of many different ages. 

Every day after lunch, the teacher (same teacher for 6 years) read to us from a book. I can't remember any of the books. It doesn't matter. It was a time when she let us move around the room a little. Our favourite thing (as girls) was to sit behind each other and take turns combing each others' hair while being read to. It felt really good.  

Otherwise, you had to sit there. If you wanted to move, you had to pretend your pencil needed to be sharpened. You had to raise your hand, ask permission to go to the back of the room and sharpen it at the sharpener, which was bolted to the back windowsill, beside the piano. Or you had to pretend you had to visit the bathroom. The girls' bathroom was on the same floor. The boys' bathroom was in the basement. Boys could move more, get some stairs in. Michael Reist would approve, because he thinks boys have a whole lot harder time with the no moving thing. He's probably right.

Anyway, I guess the point of writing about this, is, rumination about how much I was trained in school to not move freely. 

Another reflection is, is it any wonder we now have an epidemic of chronic pain? All those invisible, socially imposed chains? Not enough allowance for learning how to reduce stress in each other through simple interaction as children, like gently and slowly combing each other's hair, just for the beauty of how nice that feels? Both parties fully aware and engaged, fully attentive? The recipient fully connected interoceptively, exteroceptively, and socially, all at the same time? No deception? 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love what you say about chronic pain and the dearth of social tactile bonds in our culture. Hmmm, and I hate that there is such a dearth of these bonds in many of our lives.