MANY YEARS before he started psychotherapy, a nurse in his physician’s office suffered the sudden death of her father. Just out of kindness, he sent her a sympathy card. The next time he saw her, not too long thereafter, she ran up to him, threw her arms around him, and gave him a big hug. He almost fainted. The fact that a woman he hardly even knew was putting her arms around him was one thing, but the real surprise—as odd as it sounds—was that no one had ever given him such an innocent, spontaneous hug before.
That hug initiated a radical change in his life.
In the early 1960s, H. F. Harlow’s experiments with monkeys showed that when physical contact was withheld from infant monkeys, they became fearful, withdrawn, and apathetic.
And we know now that the same is true for human infants. Without physical affection, infants cease to thrive.