What is touch starvation?
Also known as “touch deprivation,” “skin hunger” or “hug deprivation,” touch starvation is what occurs when a person’s exposure to physical contact has been significantly reduced or eliminated, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated social distancing.
I began researching this phenomenon and discovered there was a name for it after a number of psychologists in my organization sought consultation on ways to reduce the added psychological impacts they were seeing in their skilled nursing home patients from the lack of positive human touch. Further, the psychologists were expressing how difficult it was for themselves not being able to offer a needed hug or brief hand holding during their psychotherapy sessions with patients struggling from significant grief, depression and fears.
While most residents in long-term care communities understand the reasons we cannot hug or hold a hand with those we care about,