The psychology of touch avoidance

The touch avoidance scale has been used as a research tool for some time. The averages for males and females on this scale are:

(the higher the score the more the touch avoidance, the greater the tendency to avoid touch)

Avoid opposite sex touch

Male – 12.9

Female – 14.85

Avoid same sex touch

Male – 26.43

Female – 21.70

Touch avoidance scale Jpeg

As one can see avoidance of same sex touching is considerably higher for both sexes. More than double for males. Also females avoid touch with males at a higher rate than males avoid touch with females. And females avoid touch with other females at a lower rate than males touch with other males.

In answering why, one would first think about touch being associated with sex. Physical touch is associated with sexual contact in the ‘touchers’ mind. If this is true males are far less comfortable with homosexuality than heterosexuality compared to the female. This is probably true for many men. The heterosexual male is more averse to homosexuality (especially their own homosexuality) than the female.

However there is another explanation or factor or to consider. This comes from my book “The Teenage Mind’.

“Firstly he does not have a sense of his sexual identity because of his belief that mother and self are one. This is referred to as his narcissistic sexual identity and this negative stage allows the child to gain a sense of that. If mother is the primary parenting figure obviously it is easier for the female than the male to complete this sexual identity separation. Up to the age of 4 years, male children do not realise their sexual identity is different to mother. It’s a rockier road for them to gain an understanding of their own sexual identity compared to the female child. This may explain why historically the oedipus complex has assumed more importance than the electra complex.” (P 34).

Around the age of 4 years children are working out if they perceive self as male or female. This is not related to their sexual anatomy. Instead it is about their psychological perception of self. Most will come to the conclusion they are male or female in varying degrees. Most males will end up perceiving self as more psychologically male and most females will end up perceiving self as more psychologically female.

Zoran and 3 others

There is a group who end up asexual. That is they do not come to a conclusion about their sexual identity so they do not feel male or female. Then there is transgenderism. Where a person who is clearly anatomically female but feels very clearly they are male. Their physical anatomy and their perception of self are directly opposing. The same can apply for the anatomical male who is sure he is a female in the psychological sense.

This development of the narcissistic sexual identity is asymmetrical. In most cases it is easier for the female to achieve than the male. In most instances the primary attachment figure is mother (a female). All children take on the identity of mother in the first years of life because they initially perceive mother and self to be one. So all children take on a female sexual identity. Hence when the child, at age four, begins to develop their own sense of sexual identity separate from mother, it is harder for the male child as he has to transform from the female sense of self to the male. Of course the female child does not have to make such a transformation. Thus we may have an explanation of why males can be less comfortable with male homosexuality because they have more of an inherent insecurity about their own sexual identity, compared to the female. Females have less discomfort with female homosexuality because they are more secure in their narcissistic sexual identity because it was easier to form in the first place.

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