Me and my friends quite often talk about intimacy. And how the touch such of someone stroking your arm when walking by, playing with each others hands etc, should be part of our every day actions. And not only what we (yes it’s typically Swedes…) do instead of shaking hands.
I got curious about this nearness mania of ours. Of course it’s probably a good thing but can it become too much? Weird? An obsession maybe?
Stalking the behaviour led me to the hormone Oxytocin. It’s released from positive, physical touch and most often discussed when talking about either motherhood or sex. A fun thing is that it can be released when swimming too! Fantastic huh. Another reason to love summer mmm.
The hormone reduces pain, decreases stress and anxiety and even increases the ability to follow social norms. Plus many more things. Sounds like the best medicin for pretty much anything. So, is anyone doing a business out of this?
Of course! There is an entire industry specialized in providing cuddle partners and they use the same arguments for buying the service as the benefits of Oxytocin. One example is the company “The Snuggle Buddies” where the clients sign a contract agreeing to that no sexual activity is permitted during a snuggle session. And thereafter it’s time to cuddle. From ca 80 dollars/hour. Cool.
On another scientific level, there is the psychology professor James Coan who studies what physical connections and relations do to the brain. A revelation last summer was that when we are among others the energy our brain focuses on solving problems decreases dramatically. Being in a group signals that it’s safe and that the brain can chill. Yep, herd animals indeed.
This speaks against earlier studies that say the brain is least active when alone, without stimuli. I like Coan’s one better. Even though I believe it depends on the individual too.
The closer relationship you have to the person, the more effective. But Oxytocin is released regardless. Lucky for me I sometimes get to borrow this guy to cuddle. Works as good as a human. Promise!
Fun fact, too much Oxytocin can lead to water poisoning and salt shortage. Beware cuddlers!