by Brittany Uhlorn, BIO5 Institute
Humans are born with the language of touch, and this form of physical connection is essential to our development, growth and survival throughout life.
An infant requires the protective embrace of a parent or caretaker to fully develop, learn trust and make connections. Dr. Katalin Gothard, born and trained as a medical doctor in Romania, interacted with infants who lacked that physical connection while training at an orphanage during her pediatric clerkship. Due to dictatorial policies in Romania, many orphanages were bursting with unwanted babies while suffering from lack of funds and staff. Because of scarce resources and the goal to keep the children alive, workers prioritized medical needs like preventing malnutrition and infection.
Though she and the staff did their best to keep the children physically healthy, Dr. Gothard didn’t fully understand the impact that the lack of touch would have on the orphans until she began to study the mind-body connection as a scientist in the United States.