The verb to touch means to come into or be in contact with. A touch (noun) is the act of touching someone or something. The sense of touch is one of the classic five senses along with taste, smell, hearing and seeing. In modern physiology, touch is part of the somatosensory system which also includes the sensations of vibration, heat or pain.
To feel touched usually refers to feeling emotionally moved, such as when one feels gratitude or sympathy.
Physiology of touch
Four types of sensory receptors in the skin (mechanoreceptors) convey the sense of touch. They send signals along a sensory nerve to the spinal cord where they may be processed by other sensory neurons and then relayed to the brain for further processing.
Touch in sexuality, reward, punishment and BDSM
The sense of touch gives animals (including humans) vital information about physical dangers (and their absence), such as contact with a sharp or hot object that can injure them.
The sense of touch also plays an important role in human sexuality as suitable types of touch in erogenous zones can excite sexual arousal. Touch is also commonly used non-sexually as a social tool to make another person feel comfortable (e.g. hugging, handshaking, shoulder patting, hand holding, kissing) or uncomfortable (painful types of touch such as pinching, slapping, up to corporal punishment as an extreme form), in order to mold their behaviour.
In BDSM play, touch is often found combining the mentioned aspects. Typically one partner is active, giving touch, and one is passive, receiving touch, although in types of play involving the top's genitals (such as oral sex or other types of intercourse) the roles may temporarily mix or swap in this respect. A top can tease and excite a bottom with touches that are pleasant, painful, erotic and everything in between.
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