Haptonomy: How to Communicate When You Can't Use Words
This is something close to my heart. I am convinced that there are different levels of communication, and some don't require words (before we continue, I am not talking about hanky-panky here. Please be serious, dear reader!). For example, when I was pregnant, I was very frustrated because I couldn't have a conversation with my baby. My husband felt the same way (and was actually putting on weight at the same pace than me to show his solidarity).
To give you another example: my grandmother suffers from Alzheimer and even if, technically, she can speak, most of the time what she says doesn't mean anything. So, how do you communicate?
Well, you need to try something called "haptonomy" (haptonomie in French). This is about touching someone (or, when you are pregnant, touching your tummy) and trying to convey what you want to say with your touch, and concentrating on how the other person is reacting. It is actually amazing: my daughter was feeling my husband's hand and she was tucking herself in it. She was reacting differently depending in the way we "touched" her. We felt like we knew her before she was actually born.
I am not talking about gently patting someone, just touching to say you accept and you care, or whatever you want to say, in an accepting and non-judgemental way. Words can hurt. Words categorise people : an unborn baby, a 90-year old lady who is losing her mind, ...but some things never change: we have a body and we can feel how the other person is reacting to our touch: a slight hesitation, a sadness or an eagerness to be touched.
Touching is an important part of our life. That doesn't mean that we are doing haptonomy in our daily life. Haptonomy is to touching what poems are to literature. Do not be put off by the way it is described, it doesn't need to be complicated.
Haptonomy doesn't seem to exist in the UK. What a shame! In France, it can be used to prepare women for the birth of their baby. I am normally a very rational person, and some people actually found it incredibly funny that I could even mention it. Well, my response is: if it helps me, if it makes me more accepting, it can't be that bad!