Dr. Virginia Satir, well-known American psychotherapist and the ‘mother of family therapy’, has been trying to solve the question of how many hugs a person needs every day over the course of their lifetime.
An interesting question, really! We usually spend much time thinking about how much food we need, how much money, how much vacation, some of us also think about whether they get enough sex!
But hardly anyone thinks about if they give or get enough caresses and embraces. Mind you: this is not just about emotions and feelings. Tenderness and physical contact is of course very important for small children; British psychoanalyst John Bowlby (who was raised by a nanny in the home of his wealthy parents and rarely got to see his mother) developed a theory more than 40 years ago, stating that a lack of physical attachment to one’s parents negatively influences the balance of the ‘bonding hormone’ oxytocin. The American researcher Seth Pollak later succeeded in experimentally proving this theory at the University of Wisconsin by comparing the oxytocin levels of orphans with those of children from intact families.
But what may be the practical significance from all these findings for you and me? Dr. Satir had this to say:
- We need four hugs every day to survive.
- We need eight hugs to feel happy and
- we need twelve hugs for spiritual growth.
How about you? Do you get enough hugs?
And, maybe even more important: do you give enough hugs?