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Int J Eat Disord. 1995 Mar;17(2):185-9.

Touch deprivation has an adverse effect on body image: some preliminary observations.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor 48109-0704, USA.


Body image in childhood initially develops in response to the empathic reflections of the mother or caregiver that are communicated mainly by physical sensations such as touching, secure holding, or tactile nurturing. In a nonclinical sample of 173 shoppers, we observed an inverse correlation between perceived tactile nurturing during childhood and Drive for Thinness (Eating Disorder Inventory [EDI]; Pearson r = -.19, p < or = .05) and Body Dissatisfaction (EDI; Pearson r = -.23, p < or = .05) among the females (n = 102). Furthermore, among the females there was a direct correlation (r = .29, p < .05) between a current desire to get more tactile nurturance and Drive for Thinness. Our empirical finding are consistent with the earlier developmental literature and support the importance of tactile nurturance in the development of body image especially among females.

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