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MIT Press, 2003 - Psychology - 181 pages

An essay on the importance of touch to children's growth and development and to the physical and mental well-being of people of all ages.

The first sensory input in life comes from the sense of touch while a baby is still in the womb, and touch continues to be the primary means of learning about the world throughout infancy, well into childhood. Touch is critical for children's growth, development, and health, as well as for adults' physical and mental well-being. Yet American society, claims Tiffany Field, is dangerously touch-deprived.

Field, a leading authority on touch and touch therapy, begins this accessible book with an overview of the sociology and anthropology of touching and the basic psychophysical properties of touch. She then reports recent research results on the value of touch therapies, such as massage therapy, for various conditions, including asthma, cancer, autism, and eating disorders. She emphasizes the need for a change in societal attitudes toward touching, particularly among those who work with children.


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As director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Field has extensively studied and documented touch. In this book-length essay on the importance of touch, she ... Read full review

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Page 52 - There is a sensible way of treating children. Treat them as though they were young adults. Dress them, bathe them with care and circumspection. Let your behavior always be objective and kindly firm. Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit in your lap.
Page 166 - Evaluating the safety and potential use of a weight-bearing exercise, Tai-Chi Chuan, for rheumatoid arthritis patients. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 70: 136-141.
Page 171 - Field T, Sunshine W, Hernandez-Reif M, et al. Chronic fatigue syndrome: massage therapy effects on depression and somatic symptoms in chronic fatigue.
Page 63 - I believe that the deprivation of body touch, contact, and movement are the basic causes of a number of emotional disturbances which include depressive and autistic behaviors, hyperactivity, sexual aberration, drug abuse, violence, and aggression.
Page 56 - In early human societies, before commercial baby food was invented, mothers weaned their children by chewing up their food and then passing it into the infantile mouth by lip-to-lip contact — which naturally involved a considerable amount of tonguing and mutual mouthpressure. This almost birdlike system of parental care seems strange and alien to us today, but our species probably practiced it for a million years or more, and adult erotic kissing today is almost certainly a Relic Gesture stemming...
Page 21 - ... wailing for two or three minutes till they are tired. Two brothers greet each other in this way, and so do father and son, mother and daughter, and husband and wife. When husband and wife meet, it is the man who sits in the lap of the woman.
Page 120 - Massage Massage therapy sessions are divided into three phases. For the first and last phase, the newborns are placed on their stomachs and gently stroked for 5, 1 -minute periods (12 strokes at approximately 5 seconds per stroking motion) over each region in the following sequence: 1 . From the top of the head to the neck. 2. From the neck across the shoulders. 3. From the upper back to the waist. 4. From the thigh to the foot to the thigh on both legs. 5. From the shoulder to the hand to the shoulder...
Page 76 - In reality all five senses can be reduced to one — the sense of touch. The tongue and palate sense the food; the ear, sound waves; the nose emanations; the eyes, rays of light.
Page 160 - ... (1992). Parturient women can recognize their infants by touch. Developmental Psychology, 28, 35-39. Kaitz, M., Meirov, H., Landman, I., & Eidelman, AL (1993). Infant recognition by tactile cues. Infant Behavior and Development, 16, 333-341. Kaitz, M., Shiri, S., Danziger, S., Hershko, Z., & Eidelman, AL (1994). Fathers can also recognize their newborns by touch.
Page 169 - Solkoff, N., & Matuszak, D. (1975). Tactile stimulation and behavioral development among low-birthweight infants. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 6, 33-37. Uvnas-Moberg, K., Widstrom, AM, Marchine. G., & Windberg, J. (1987). Release of GI hormone in mothers and infants by sensory stimulation.

About the author (2003)

Tiffany Field is Director of the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

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