Men traditionally don't hug but since the 60's and the advent of the Men's Movement, there has been a change in men's behavior. They are more willing to make contact with their children, relatives and other men, in paticular. Hugging has become mainstream and you can see President Obama and Vice President Biden hugging on national television. The stigma about hugging has essentially gone away. This is a good thing. And yet, there is a shadow that isn't talked about much on the other side of hugs and hugging.

The shadow that I am referring to is violence in the form of corporal punishment or sexual abuse. These are ways of touching but they are harmful and life altering ways of being touched. The research that I am aware of suggests strongly that boys and adlosecent males, in particular, who were never held or hugged or soothed physically often become violent physically and often abuse others sexually when they grow up. As a therapist, I see clients who have been sexually abused as children by teenage biological or step-brothers; adult males as well. All of this is true for girls and women but this article focuses on male behavior.

My point is that unless we can continue to create a society where all children are hugged and touched appropriately while they are growing up--a very human need that develops the psychological and emotional well being of all humans--we will continue to read stories about physical and sexual violence by those poor souls who never were given the appropriate physcial and emotional nurturance that they needed and deserved. I hope we can evolve to include more and more physical nurturance for our children--hugs and hugging--so we can build a healthier society and world!

©2010, Michael Shaffran

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Mike Shaffran is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist with over 30 years experience in the mental health profession. He's worked most of his time in outpatient Psychiatric clinics where he has provided individual, couples/marital, family and group therapy. He is trained in multiple therapies, including: Psycho-dynamic, Gestalt,Structural-Strategic Family, Solution focused, Brief Therapy, and other methods. He is trained in EMDR ( a type of therapy for PTSD), hypnosis, meditation and guided imagery also. Mike is committed to ongoing seminars, workshops and trainings to keep current with the latest therapy to provide the best services possible to his clients. www.sanluisobispotherapy.com or E-Mail

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