Closeness at a distance

By Jeff Mannes Switch to German for original article

Sexuality in times of the pandemic. How the virus turns human proximity into a privilege.

It has now been about a year since the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 began to paralyze the world. From physical health to social coexistence, from the economy to the psyche: hardly any aspect of our lives has not been touched by the virus. But there was one topic that was little talked about: the impact of the virus on our sexuality. A look back at the past year and how we can now look to the future.

“A social society without body communication cannot exist at all, because in the smallest cell of society, in the family, body communication always takes place.” This is how psychologist and haptics researcher Martin Grunwald was quoted on Zeit Online last May. Without touch, people could not live, he said. Zeit Online was thus problematizing the lack of physical contact between people, a problem triggered by pandemic-related social distancing and exacerbated by the April 2020 lockdown. Now Luxembourg is also back in its second lockdown, which at the time of writing is scheduled to last until Jan. 10, 2021.

There is a reason why there is not a single mammal without a sense of touch, the scientist said. All other senses can be dispensed with if necessary, but not the sense of touch. Without it, people would become ill: back and joint pain, panic, anxiety, sleep and concentration disorders, but also psychosomatic illnesses could be the result of a lack of human touch. Zeit Online quoted him aptly: “It apparently took a pandemic to make us understand this warning.”

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"Hitting the wall"