DOES KISSING AID HUMAN BONDING BY SEMIOCHEMICAL ADDICTION?

  • Nicholson B
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Abstract

Kissing is almost uhiquitous throughout the cultures of man (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1970), but what is it for? This paper proposes that kissing may be a mechanism by which semiochemicals are exchanged between human beings to induce bonding or love. From a review of the literature, a hypothesis is synthesized to suggest an explanation for the spectrum of bonding-related behaviour, from the warmth of affection to child abuse. There may be as many definitions oilove and bonding as writers on the subject (e.g. Murstein, 1971; Finck, 1891; Klaus & Kennell, 1982). This is yet another: one person's addiction to (or recognition of) a semiochemical(s) of another person. Semiochemical is preferred to the more widely recognized term, pheromone, after the usage proposed by Mykytowycz because 'mammals display manifold responses to the same odour-signal depending on the behavioural situation, the physiological state of the individual and other factors controlled by the social and physical environments' (Mykytowycz, 1979). Here olfaction as a possible semiochemical receptor mechanism will not be examined. The emphasis will be on the possibility of ingestion of a skin surface substance, sebum, during amorous contact. Skin sucking behaviour (kissing) allows only specific reception, without the inherent indiscrimination of olfaction. You can be smelled by a room full of people all at the same time, but kissing needs permission. The American Psychological Association has abandoned the term addiction. It will be used in this paper following medical usage: physiological dependence on some agent (e.g. alcohol, drug). It should be pointed out that identifying addiction as a human response to semiochemicals is not crucial to the author's bonding hypothesis. Recognition could substitute.

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Authors

  • B. Nicholson

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