In Maslow’s hierarchy most of the needs are actually emotional needs. As his famous triangle shows our physical needs are at the bottom. Once those are met our emotional needs become most important to us.
A 2013 study from UCLA found that unconditional love and affection from a parent can make children emotionally happier and less anxious. This happens because their brain actually changes as a result of the affection.
On the other hand, the negative impact of childhood abuse and lack of affection impacts children both mentally and physically. This can lead to all kinds of health and emotional problems throughout their lives.
What’s really fascinating is that scientists think parental affection can actually protect individuals against the harmful effects of childhood stress and reduce the risk of substance abuse including cigarettes.
12 step fellowships have intuitively realized that in the addicted population many are starved for warmth that comes from safe touch. They hug in greeting and acknowledgement. Conversely, some individuals are not used to and subsequently uncomfortable with hugs. This could cause more stress and here a warm handshake works wonders too. It’s important to become aware of what kind of touch causes you discomfort and be brave enough to assert yourself.