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In praise of hugs

By Timothy Cocks Uncategorized, Metaphor and language 11 Mar 2016

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I’m quite enjoying dipping into The Book of Life, so of course I clicked on the link in Alain de Botton’s tweet. The page In Praise of Hugs is a lovely, thoughtful and thought provoking vignette that can serve to remind us of the power of authentic human contact

“Like the peck on both cheeks, a hug is now something you can do at the office or with someone you’re only meeting for the second time: in other words, it’s grown into a sentimental token of chumminess that means more or less nothing. Which is a pity, because in its essence, hugging is of deep and poignant significance.”

“…as we grow towards adulthood, independence and self-reliance become key and the sort of hugs we once knew recede. The chummy office hug is all we’re left with.”

“To be in need of a hug is to admit – in shorthand – ‘I feel, at the moment, terrifyingly small – and need someone else to be, for a while, like a parent’.”

“A hug is a symbol of everything we tend to sorely miss in our hyper-individualistic achievement-centered culture: a chance safely to admit to our total dependence on another person.”

Beautiful links to Safety In Me in all of this, and I’m reminded of our oxytocin Neuroscience Nugget and David Bolton’s wonderful post on hugging as an “advanced clinical skill”.

Even The Wolverine likes an authentic hug:

“When I come home, my daughter will run to the door and give me a big hug, and everything that’s happened that day just melts away.”

Hugh Jackman

-Tim Cocks


We can’t guarantee any hugs – that would just be creepy, but we can guarantee the most up to date pain science education as we take EP, GMI and MONIS on tour around this great southern land

Townsville: EP & GMI April 29-May 1 

Canberra: MONIS at the Australian Institute of Sport May 3-4 

Canberra: EP& GMI at the Australian Institute of Sport May 6-8

Adelaide: Pain, Plasticity and Rehabilitation May 14-15 

Noosa: EP & GMI June 17-19

Perth: EP & GMI October 15-17


  1. I admit it, I’m a hugger. There are some people whose hugs are akin to sitting in front of a blazing fire- it’s like they’re enfolding you in their arms and giving you some of their life-giving warmth every time they hug you. I am lucky- there are some of these huggers on our team. I have never perceived their hugs as ’empty office hugs’ as described above. Combined with a morning coffee it’s great sustenance for whatever the day ahead brings. Is it maybe our self consciousness that prevents a hug from feeling really authentic?

  2. rsser

    “To be in need of a hug is to admit …. ‘I feel, at the moment, terrifyingly small’.”

    There are other meanings too.
    The philosopher has a rather limited understanding.

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