Key Points:

  • There was a time when families shared toothbrushes and dinner utensils, and travelers who needed lodging for the night shared a bed with strangers of the same sex. 
  • Germs changed all that more than a hundred years ago with germ theory — the discovery that microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses caused disease .
  • By the end of the 19th century, mothers and other primary caretakers became cautious about cuddling or touching their children for fear of breeding deadly infections.
  • In 1888, the “Wife’s Handbook” warned mothers that a single touch was teeming with deadly germs that might harm her infant, and public campaigns urged caution when preparing family meals.
  • Attachment theory, observed the damaging effects of separation on British children who had been removed from their parents and evacuated to safer areas.

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