July 1st, 2017| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder, was witnessing the birth of his daughter four years ago.

My wife was in pain, and all I could think was, ‘What can I do to help her?’ I reached for her hand and it seemed to help. I wanted to test it out in the lab: Can one really decrease pain with touch, and if so, how?”

Goldstein and his team in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab undertook the challenge. And the results are out in Scientific Reports—Nature: “The Role of Touch in Regulating Inter-partner Physiological Coupling During Empathy for Pain.”

When an empathetic partner takes the hand of a woman in pain, their heart and respiratory rates go into sync, and—surprise!—the woman’s pain dissipates!

Twenty-two couples were enrolled into the study of “interpersonal synchronization”—the physiological mirroring of two people, kinda like two people walking together, synchronizing their footsteps. The couples were tested in a scenario mimicking a delivery room. They sat together without touching, or sat together holding hands, or sat in separate rooms. And a mild high temperature pain was applied to the forearm of the woman.

Said Goldstein:

The more empathetic the partner, the stronger the analgesic effect and the higher the synchronization between the two when they are touching. It appears that pain totally interrupts this interpersonal synchronization between couples. Touch brings it backs. It could be that touch is a tool for communicating empathy, resulting in an analgesic, or pain-killing, effect.”

Previous studies from showed that sight of a loved one, or even a photograph, achieves an anaesthetic effect.

Yup, the Fab Four were right:

Oh, yeah, I’ll tell you somethin’
I think you’ll understand;
When I say that somethin’
I want to hold your hand!

Oh, please, say to me,
You’ll let me be your man;
And, please, say to me,
You’ll let me hold your hand,
Now, let me hold your hand,
I want to hold your hand!

And when I touch you
I feel happy inside;
It’s such a feelin’ that my love
I can’t hide!

Yeah, you got that somethin’,
I think you’ll understand;
When I say that somethin’,
I want to hold your hand!
John Lennon / Paul McCartney (1964)

I’m reminded of that duplex narrative in Mark 5:21–43, with the story of Jairus and his daughter (5:21–24 and 5:35–43) sandwiching the story of the hemorrhaging woman (5:25–34).

There is an intriguing number of curious details in that story (for which, turn up next week at Northwest Bible Church), but in both healings that Jesus accomplishes, he touches the afflicted parties.

Jairus implores Jesus:

“My little daughter is at the point of death;
please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.”
Mark 5:23

The woman thought:

“If I just touch His garments, I will get well.”
Mark 5:28

And she does:

After hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak.
Mark 5:27

I don’t know about “interpersonal synchronization” with the contact, but I know this: she was healed!

Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed.
Mark 5:29

Later Jesus goes into Jairus’s house to see his ailing daughter who, by now, has died.

Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, … “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”
Mark 5:41

He touches her and … she comes back to life!

May we constantly feel the healing touch of our Savior!

I wanna hold Your hand!

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