From Library Journal …… As director of the Touch
Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Field has
extensively studied and documented touch. In this book-length essay on the
importance of touch, she argues that while skin is the largest sense organ of
the body, it is taken for granted and overlooked in terms of research; it is
also our most social sense in that it usually involves another person. Field
discusses different kinds of touch e.g., tickling, inappropriate touching, touch
that is relaxing as well as anthropological findings. For example, various
studies show that Americans are some of the least tactile people in the world.
Field goes on to suggest that many of the problem behaviors we see in this
country might be traced to the absence of touch, or, as she characterizes it,
to "touch hunger." In her enthusiasm for her subject, she offers a
few observations that strain credulity, as when she suggests that a fetus may
turn out to be a good swimmer because of being stimulated in the womb by
massage. Descriptions of the results of touch deprivation, the mechanics of how
touch operates in the body, and various touch therapies and their benefits,
especially in terms of pain reduction, are detailed. An interesting,
well-written book with an extensive bibliography; recommended for public and
Not just for touch therapists, ......
This is not exactly a groundbreaking piece of work, yet it succeeds by convicting us of something that we have so taken for granted and lightly - the importance of touch for survival and well-being. The subject matter in this book is familiar to many of us, and therefore very accessible. It seems intuitive, something we have known all along, except we don't think much about.
A Fundamental Look at Touch ........ This is an introduction to the deep, important, and fascinating subject of touch by the foremost researcher in the field. While it may not be the best book imaginable on touch, it is the best book available on touch. Simply put, Touch by Tiffany Field is a book that anyone who has ever been touched or wants to touch should read.
Highly recommended for those who seek to stay in touch with themselves as well as others.
A must have for every touch therapist, .......
Touch by Tiffany Field is one of the books that should be read by anyone who is involved with human touch, and that's everyone. Although touch is a universal need, it is so easily overlooked in today's modern world. This book gives the scientific evidence of something we intuitively know is good for us.
Especially touch therapists need to have this book in their personal library. It's a great resource to deepen your knowledge.
The New England Journal of Medicine
……. Few physicians talk about the clinical use of touch, and few medical
schools teach it specifically, even though touch is a unique tool for diagnosis
and therapeutic applications, as well as a means of communicating a caring
attitude. In the poem "Line Drive," by Allen Ginsberg, the physician
realizes that he "forgot to touch or be touched" while giving bad news
to a patient. This line reminds us that touch includes not only physical touch
but also emotional and compassionate possibilities as one person's experience
affects another's. But contemporary medicine, in part because of time
constraints and sophisticated diagnostic interventions, often limits the use of
touch in patient care. The public has noticed this change, as suggested by the
title of a recent New York Times article: "Are Doctors Losing Touch with
Hands-on Medicine?" Medical educators and practicing physicians can learn
from our colleagues who are experts in using touch and associated therapies.
In this book, Field, director of the Touch Research Institutes at the
University of Miami School of Medicine, argues that Western society, including
the medical profession, marginalizes and minimizes the importance of touch. She
reviews many factors, such as concerns about sexual harassment, legal
repercussions, and an aging population, that diminish the use of touch in
general. Calling America a "touch-taboo" society, Field questions the
restrictions placed on touch. One example of an area in which the trend is to
limit touching is education: legal restrictions and fear of lawsuits restrict a
teacher's ability to comfort a child.
Touch is a sensation that not only helps us understand our environment
but also connects us to others. Field cites the pioneering work of Ashley
Montagu in Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin (2nd ed., New York:
Harper and Row, 1978) and Harry Harlow's research at the University of
Wisconsin during the 1950s. Harlow's experiments with infant monkeys and
surrogate mothers demonstrated that the infants "preferred the cloth
mother without milk over the wire mother with milk" -- observations that
suggested the importance of touch stimulation in early life.
In the initial chapters of her book, Field reviews the traditions of
touching in many cultures from sociological and anthropologic perspectives. She
also examines the effect of touch on growth and development, the effect of
therapeutic massage on the progression of various illnesses, and the usefulness
of massage in maintaining health and preventing disease. Field explores these
and other topics as she reports on research involving infants, children,
adolescents, and adults, most of it sponsored by the Touch Research Institutes.
Committed to both the use of touch in health care and other settings and to the
scientific exploration of touch, Field offers this book as her attempt to help
bring touch into the mainstream of our lives.
Touch offers information to readers with scientific backgrounds and
those with general interests in touch and related therapies. There are, for
example, concise, informative reviews of the skin and its neurologic
connections and of therapies that involve touch. These presentations are clear
and concise, but they are not a comprehensive or detailed review of the topics.
I had several concerns as I read this book. One is the emphasis on
Field's own research. She may be a leader in the field, but there are other
investigators whose contributions are not mentioned.
In addition, the outcomes (e.g., weight in infants, sleep habits, and
levels of anxiety) of touch interventions, usually massage, and physiological
measurements (e.g., cortisol levels) after the use of such interventions, are
presented without a description of the details of the study. The quality and
validity of such findings cannot be assessed without consideration of the study
design and methods used. Critical readers will have questions about many of the
reported outcomes of touch interventions, and conclusions based on evidence
cannot be made from reading this book. On the other hand, to report all the
details of the studies would result in a different book. Field appears to be
addressing a broad audience: experts in touch therapies, persons interested in
expanding the use of touch interventions in health care and other settings, and
health care professionals in general. In the absence of information about the
study design and methods, readers need to use caution in accepting (or
rejecting) study outcomes. References are provided for readers who want to take
a closer look, and most of the cited articles are in accessible journals.
Field's conclusions, contained in a single paragraph embedded in the
last chapter of her book, unfortunately do not further the direction of
research, provide ideas for curricular innovations at schools for health care
professionals, or indicate specific recommendations for the integration of
touch therapies in our society. Field's book provides a review of the
historical and cultural research on touch, an overview of touch therapies, and
a summary of contemporary topics of research. The outcomes of much of the
research remain in question because of the author's reporting style. Experts in
touch therapy will see this book as a review of their field, and some may feel
excluded, whereas persons who are interested in beginning research on touch or
integrating touch therapy into everyday practice may be pleased with this book
as an introduction to the topic. They will need to draw their own conclusions
about the effect of massage and other touch therapies used in various settings.
Julia E. Connelly, M.D.
Copyright © 2002 Massachusetts Medical
Society. All rights reserved. The New England Journal of Medicine is a
registered trademark of the MMS.
Booklist ……. The "laying-on of
hands" has a long tradition, and its medical efficacy has been proven by
recent research. Field, a psychologist and touch therapist, was first
introduced to touch therapy when her now-adult daughter was born prematurely.
Field examines the sociology and anthropology of touching and the "basic
psychophysical properties of touch." She observes the complex emotions
surrounding touching taboos and cultural practices in the U.S and other
nations. She laments that concerns about sexual and physical abuse have
resulted in teachers and other child-care professionals avoiding touching
children even though, at the same time, research shows that many children
suffer from a lack of caring. In later chapters, Field describes recent
research on touch therapy and its benefits, ranging from stress reduction to
brain development to improving the immune system. The book also offers massage
therapy, including tai chi and acupuncture, to alleviate a range of ailments,
including asthma, autism, cancer, and eating disorders. Plenty of photographs,
charts, and graphs help readers understand the importance of touching to
physical and mental well-being.
interesting, well-written book with an extensive bibliography." — Margaret
Cardwell, Library Journal
"In the hands of Tiffany Field,
touch, 'the mother of the senses,' finds its muse. An engagingly written book
coursing from the physiology lab to 'new age' therapy, Touch never fails to
stimulate." — Lewis Leavitt,
Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Director, Waisman Center on Human
Development and Mental Retardation, University of Wisconsin-Madison