In a South American orphanage, Rene Spitz observed, recorded, and compiled evidence of what happened to 97 children who were deprived of emotional and physical contact with people. Because of a lack of funds, there was not enough staff to adequately care for these children, ages 3 months to 3 years old. Nurses changed diapers and fed and bathed the children. But there was little time to hold, cuddle, and talk to them as a mother would. After three months many of them showed signs of abnormality. Besides a loss of appetite and being unable to sleep well, many of the children lay with a vacant expression in their eyes. After five months, serious deterioration set in. They lay whimpering, with troubled and twisted faces. Often, when a doctor or nurse would pick up an infant, it would scream in terror. Twenty seven, almost one third, of the children died the first year, but not from lack of food or health care. They died of a lack of touch and emotional nurture. Because of this, seven more died the second year. Only twenty one of the 97 survived, most suffering serious psychological damage.
Have you gently touched someone on their shoulders this week and let them know how much you really care? Have you smiled at someone and said hello as you pass them in the hallway? Think of those poor South American orphans the next time as you encounter people in your path.