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May 1970

The Need or Wish to be Held

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Dr. Hollender is currently with the Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tenn.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1970;22(5):445-453. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1970.01740290061008

THE NEED or wish to be held or cuddled is sometimes a relevant issue in the treatment of anxious, depressed, and schizophrenic patients. It may contribute to marital difficulties or cause sexual problems, including promiscuity, and the repeated conception of out-of-wedlock children. For a small number of women (and perhaps men), the need or wish to be held is a major determinant of a particular characterological pattern or way of life.

It is surprising, therefore, that the seeking of body contact has received so little attention in the psychiatric literature. Comprehensive investigations have been conducted only on subhuman species. Some observations on human infants and adults have been reported but mostly as incidental findings, and they are not derived from systematic studies.

While the dearth of investigations of the need or wish to be held or cuddled can be attributed to various influences,

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