Encountering touch: A path to affinity in psychiatric care

  • Salzmann-Erikson M
  • Eriksson H
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Abstract

The idea of physical contact and touching in psychiatric care has, in many instances, been considered inappropriate. Psychiatry is often perceived as a verbal process and it has been generally believed that touching can provoke both aggressiveness and destructive manifestations of sexuality. However, recent research has suggested that touching can play an important role in psychiatric treatment once a caring relationship has been established. The aim of this study is to investigate the meaning of physical contact for patients who have been treated for psychosis. Through four in-depth interviews and a life-world analysis the results show that touching means to be in need, to yearn, and to belong. Furthermore, touching also communicates feelings between bodies and, as such, it can be a path through which one feels acknowledged as a human being. The results indicate that a feeling of affinity can originate through physical contact, which can be regarded as a driving force in the search to feel a sense of belonging to the community.

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