There may or may not be research into hugs (I haven’t researched) but I’ve a sneaking suspicion they’re vital to all of us.
We hug our friends-and-relations, we hug children, we sometimes hug strangers (hello and goodbye, that kind of thing, unless it’s a ‘free hugger’ wandering around the city centre and we partook) we hug to show affection, love, comfort, solidarity, sympathy, joy, congratulations…
Millions of people on facebook have ‘liked’ hugs, and they’re truly a universal thing – they connect us intimately to another person – and I can hardly imagine a person who doesn’t hug.
We write hugs in cards (the big O with a dot in the middle – a person’s arms encircling the other person), we can text hug ((your name here – have a hug)), we can even text long hugs ((((((((((have another, you)))))))))), we can search and send
sickening really cute photos of puppies hugging, kittens hugging, babies hugging, puppies and kittens and babies in big huggy piles.
Hugs are nurturing things – there’s nothing like a good long hug with someone (when it’s appropriate) and studies show that newborns do better when they’re in skin-to-skin contact with their parents. I was watching the tv show ‘One Born Every Minute‘ this evening and a couple who had really premature babies said that they didn’t feel like parents yet as they had not yet been able to hug their daughters.
Hugs are a deep-seated human instinct and in fact, hugs alter our hormonal make-up (I don’t know whether they do this regardless of the situation surrounding the hug – I suspect the impact would be greater the more meaningful the hug) and help us to bond with one another.
Hugs help us to survive – perhaps anthropologically speaking, without the instinct to hug, warm and nurture babies, the human race wouldn’t have succeeded. Perhaps without the glut of hugs we enjoy as babies, we wouldn’t seek that same contact when older and relationships would be more frigid or our sense of self may be more fragile (studies have shown that oxytocin levels are lower in sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists and those who manipulate others excessively).
The long and the short of it is that we were made to hug and we should exercise that pleasure as often as is possible in everyday life – hugging makes everything better.