LOVE: THE GREAT MEDICINE
“Love conquers all.”
VIRGILIO PUBLIO MARON
Leo Buscaglia, in his fine book “Love. Being a person” says: “Whereas the child does not know or understand the subtle dynamics of love, they very early feel a great need for love and any lack of love can affect their growth and development and even cause death”. Also today we know that lack of love is the cause of a good deal of psychological illnesses that seem not to stop to be increasing in the West societies: from anxiety, to depression, to neurosis and even psychosis are born, to more or lesser extent, from this shortcoming of affection. Without kindness, not fulfilled that basic need keeps unfulfilled so we cannot continue to feel good, to experience the joy, to evolve: without love it is harder to grow up.
But beyond that, the ideas reflected by Claude Steiner in his book “Scripts People Live By” make an interesting point: “cuddling is essential to survival”, says the specialist, if not cuddled, people fuel up a mechanism, this survival instinct that leads us to crave for them —often unconsciously— at any price. Under this premise, we are even accepting negative strokes than no touch at all, or quoting Faulkner, some prefer pain to nothing, slap to ignorance, grief to void, contempt to indifference, crying to apathy. It is from this mechanism that we can understand some human behaviours, ranging from free masochism to rebellion. For example, a child who rebels repeatedly without apparent objective reason is perhaps desperately seeking the attention of absent parents. Perhaps the child, with this aggressive, rebellious, transgressive behaviour is making an exasperated call for their parents’ attention so that they will put limits or even better, to pay real attention to him.
When positive, honest and desired caress transforms us. In the game of love and lust unleashed, it leads us to movement, to heat, to the close up, to the climax and blissful relaxation. In tenderness, it touches us and is moving. In friendship, cuddling unites us and makes us accomplice. Even peace and goodwill are manifested in two hands that bind firmly at the touch of the caress. Also in pain and during mourning, the pamper and the embrace of the beloved make loss bearable because it underpins the wounded soul.
The strokes also open the door to awareness of our body. Do we know the nuances and the infinite spectrum of feelings that can awaken the caresses of the beloved? Do we know in detail the skin of our partner, our loved or wanted one to immerse us in intimate contact? Rather not. In general, we know little about our bodies and even less of the beloved’s. We spend little time and attention for it. In it there is a universe that we never end up exploring, because time also brings new dimensions and sensations that qualify and continuously expand recognition of body experience of the beloved.
Facing with remote communication and supersaturation of stimuli, we have a highly economical and highly valuable resource: touch and feel, touch and tenderness. The body to body instead of mobile phone, internet, television and other media. Perhaps today, much of the problems of psychological and physical health that we are living in a society increasingly stressed and bulimic, are desperate cries of our bodies that are carried by an archaic essential intelligence and the profound demand to see satisfied their need for meeting intimate with each other. Intimacy is not only or necessarily the sexual encounter, but it is, above all, the need to find the sincere, love. What if instead of gorging daily banalities, others’ stories or hobbies of limited intellectual and emotional value we were to plunge into the nuances of touch with those whom we wish to express our affection? No doubt, moodiness, depression, anxiety and even sadness would fall down drastically. “Make love not war”, read the pacifist slogan, which would be good to take back today.
Because caress stimulates endorphins, those natural hormones we secrete and which make pain more bearable in addition to give us a deep sense of wellbeing. And we know that in case of growing up and living in the absence of touch, affectionate contact, hugs, our brains stop tolerating stress, anxiety and pain. Because when it comes to touch we’re talking about something more than a matter of pure touch, heat, or sensations. It is the meaning that accompanies the touch, the message of attention and care, the desire to open the door to pleasure, which makes the thrill and the excitement arising from opening up. Touch accompanied by tenderness and affection, transmits messages requiring thousand words to be decoded. A touch can be the only way to express the unspeakable. Its message is subtle and profound at the same time. Because a caress speaks way before showing. It is already present in its intention. As Mario Benedetti expressed when he wrote: “Like adventure and enigma/ a caress begins before/ turning into a caress”.
Then, the invitation is simple: we can include in the scope of our language, in our affections, the kind gesture, close, conciliatory and tender caresses. We can choose to include in our communicative alphabet and in our emotional diet a healthy dose of tender through the skin to build our Good Life and the good of those around us. How to do it, then? How can we communicate better with those we love? The answer, as such, is in our hands.
Words for a Good Life:
Caresses Report [Free and unofficial translation]
Caresses are a language
So if your caresses speak to me
I wouldn’t want them to shut up
A caress is not a copycat
Of another distant caress
It’s a new version
Which can be even better
It is the skin’s joy
Caress as it lasts
And when it goes off, leaves
Which are prodigy and charm
Show but a defect
They have no touch
Like adventure and enigma
A caress begins before
Turning into a caress
Indeed what seems best
Is not the caress itself
But its continuing
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