In Review: books and apps

Touch, Tackling Rugby, Thrive and more

Touch (2nd edition), by Tiffany Field

The blurb on the cover of this book offered an enticing mix of research and evidence from practice that would describe the biological and physiological effects of touch, and help me unpack how touch promotes human development and communication.

The book begins by reflecting on situations in contemporary society where touch is missing, before presenting chapters that describe the practices and biological and physiological processes of touch to promote human development and interactions.

The chapter on touch therapies presents a useful, though primarily descriptive overview of the different touch techniques associated with Eastern and Western approaches to health and wellbeing. The final chapter of the book returns to the arguments running through its opening chapter to highlight the benefits of touch – as a sensory (and sensual) experience in its own right and as a therapeutic tool.

The pages are littered with citations to research about the use of touch, but the tone and style adopted is largely uncritical of the findings. And although I am sympathetic to the arguments about the value of touch running through the text (and can evidence that from my practice as a paediatric physiotherapist), the book left me feeling disappointed.

Its focus on individual biology/physiology and descriptive approach seemed to silence the role played by society in shaping our experience and practice of touch – as people and as physiotherapists.

If you are looking for a book to help you explore how touch is experienced and used by individuals and societies in a given time and place, I would signpost you towards alternative, more critical authors such as Constance Classen or Erin Manning.

If you are looking for something that describes the biological and physiological effects of touch in a way that is easy to read and digest, you might want to add this book to your personal reading list.

  • Gwyn Owen, CSP professional adviser

Tackling Rugby: What every parent should know about injuries by Allyson M Pollock

Witten by a professor of public health research and policy at Queen Mary, University of London, this book aims to set out the ‘true risks’ to children who play rugby.

Thrive: The power of psychological therapy, by Richard Layard and David M Clark

Two leading experts show how evidence-based psychological treatments can bring hope to people with mental health problems, along with economic benefits.

Suffering Narratives of Older People, by Mary Beth Quaranta Morrissey

This book, subtitled a phenomenological approach to serious illness, chronic pain, recovery and maternal care, ‘builds on knowledge about suffering to help guide ethical action in preventing and relieving chronic pain and improving systems of care’.

Working in Public Health: An introduction to careers in public health, Fiona Sim and Jenny Wright (eds)

The authors, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Solutions for Public Health, looks at public health work in a range of settings,  including the commercial sector and the health service.

Gwyn Owen, Frontline staff

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