Inspirited-dispirited touch: a phenomenological investigation
Hagen, Colleen L.
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The nature and characteristics of the experience of inspiriting/dispiriting touch was explored. Concepts from phenomenology and the simultaneity paradigm provided the philosophical and theoretical framework. The investigation was approached by employing phenomenological methods. Data were collected by means of tape recorded interviews with 19 adult individuals. One male and 5 females were selected for in-depth protocol analysis. Descriptions were explicated through comprehensive theme analysis and illustrated with verbatim statements from participants' protocols. The process of phenomenological reduction resulted in narrative descriptive summaries and yielded the fundamental components of inspiriting and dispiriting touch. Pre-conditions of inspiriting/dispiriting touch and the experiences themselves were revealed. Although being inspirited through touch occurred in varied situations in life it became a possibility when it was an expressed act of love, as defined by Eric Fromm, to which the individual freely reciprocated. When the motives and intentions of touch were perceived to be otherwise, the individual was not helped and at times diminished through touch. This study concluded that individuals have the power to create a dialogue of openness and trust and to deepen relationships through touch if they choose to involve themselves in a caring and meaningful way.