Human Touch: The Psychoanalytic Effects it has on Human Beings

Topics: Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, Psychology Pages: 13 (2650 words) Published: July 29, 2014

Human Touch:
The Psychoanalytic Effects it has on Human Beings

Jennifer L. Medeiros

American Military University

Human Touch:
The Psychoanalytic Effects it has on Human Beings

The topic of review is one that engages in both the why not and what if human touch should be used as another form of communication during psychoanalysis. The study used involving the existence of this form of communication will be the basis for which this paper is written. We will be exploring the question, is it or is it not okay to use physical touch as a form of analytic technique during therapy sessions. What is the potential outcome for the patient and therapists when physical touch is introduced into a therapy plan? And possible negative impacts to using this form of therapy will be discussed. It is known that physical contact does occur and that is why the discussion is one that must be brought to light. THE FINDINGS OF ELLEN TORONTO

In the article “The Human Touch: An exploration of the role and meaning of physical touch in psychoanalysis” Toronto (2001), Ellen Toronto brings to light a very controversial and uneasy topic among psychologists. Because psychoanalysts see no logic for throwing out human touch as a means of “extra-analytic technique”, the job of the human analysts becomes more defined and humane in regard to one on one therapy. Later in the article Toronto provides information on three case studies done where human touch was and was not beneficial for the outcome of therapy and explains the various reasoning’s behind why or why not the decision to touch was made. She also shares her personal convictions and conflicts when faced with this decision. Toronto says that psychologists who study psychoanalytical techniques are against it and that many connect human touch and therapy with sexual intimacy or inappropriate interferences during treatment. Based off of the well balanced information given in this article, Ellen Toronto goes on to say that psychologists must become more cognizant of what it is that they are doing and hold into account that all forms of communication should be considered during phases of therapy. The viewpoint of most psychologists regarding hugs or even handshakes between the therapist and patient has been very negative and confusing. Toronto claims that human touch and the fact that it is happening, regardless of how people feel about it has been overlooked and ignored in some respects by practitioners and should be acknowledged. There have been reports of physical activity between therapists and patient. Toronto mentions that others such as Ferenczi, Winnicott, Casement, Mclaughlin and Maroda view touching as an important and necessary form of communication in regard to analytical work. They believe that extra-analytic techniques such as self-discloser and holding are now viewed as very beneficial when performed cautiously and with regard to the situation. After further discussion between Toronto and her colleagues, she discovered that it does occur, usually with patients that are regressed, but the discussion was never formally admitted. Even though reasons for physical touch in the treatment form seem to be necessary, these acknowledgments from her peers seemed to be viewed as negative and guilt filled. This is the very reason why Ellen Toronto deems it necessary to expose the interactions that occur among the analyst and the analyzed. It provides valuable information on situations involving touching as part of treatment and sheds light on the types of circumstances where physical contact might be necessary for patients missing certain developmental stages in their human development. Human beings begin; in that we start off as infants, without being able to communicate verbally and only through touch and bodily fluids, as do mother and child. In the article, it is said that it is the mothering figure that sets the stage...

References: Toronto, Ellen L. K. (2001). The human touch: An exploration of the role and meaning of physical touch in psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic Psychology 18 (1), 37-54.
Wade, C. & Tavris, C. (2012). Invitation to psychology, 5th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
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