During this time of isolation, small moments of tenderness can help us feel more connected than ever.

By Faith Bethelard, Psy.D. D.S.S., Clinical Psychologist

(From Faith’s article on thriveglobal.com)

thrive global

During the quarantine, I’ve noticed a lot of recipes being shared on social media. It makes sense: people are home with extra time to cook. Home-cooked food is a way to cope with these difficult times. But, as a psychologist, I know that even the most sumptuously prepared meal cannot feed every part of us. From my professional experience I can tell you that there’s one type of hunger that has nothing to do with the stomach, and it’s recently gotten a whole lot more pronounced. In this unprecedented time, when all of us are warned to keep our distance from each other or face the potentially dire consequences, what is that unnamed hunger?

I believe that what is too often missing in people’s lives is the satisfaction of a fundamental need that they have not fully grasped or understood. The Dutch have a word huidhonger, meaning “skin hunger,” the feeling people develop when they are disconnected from one another. Let’s add to that another word that relates to emotional hunger: a Japanese everyday noun amae, loosely translated as “the expectation to be sweetly and indulgently loved.”

Doi discovers a word

In an effort to better understand and help his patients, Japanese psychiatrist Takeo Doi noticed something that surprised him. Hidden in the everyday language of his culture, he discovered, was a key to unlocking the mysteries of many of his patients’ psychological and emotional distress. Amae, the need for sweet care, originates in the earliest bond between baby and mother, and remains in us like a kernel of goodness all our lives. Its usage in Japan is commonplace, amongst people of all ages and in varied situations. Most interestingly, there are a large number of Japanese words to describe all kinds of troubled mental states that arise when this need is frustrated or denied…

Read the rest of the article at thriveglobal.com