Strategies for Sufferers of OCTS (Overwhelming Compulsion to Touch Strangers)


Like most health issues primarily affecting women, the overwhelming compulsion to touch strangers (OCTS) lacks adequate research. As such, Science is yet to discover a reliable cure. Though offenders belong to all genders, victims are primarily females of any age and male children whose heads are still hair-ruffling height.

If you have been accosted by someone with OCTS, please share this article to raise awareness. If you personally suffer from OCTS, you may find the following strategies helpful to manage your affliction. The following should not be considered medical advice:

1.) Scenario: A crowded restaurant, an infant sleeps soundly in his carrier.

Mom and Dad enjoy a rare hot meal without disturbance. They’re so focused on their food they might not even notice if you pinch his precious cheek. STOP! Imagine yourself in the Cave of Wonders, like from the Disney animated classic Aladdin. It may seem like the gold and rubies everywhere are up for grabs, but that old coot who hired you was crystal clear you need to focus on what you came for (the *food in front of your face) and leave the rest of those tempting treasures alone. Otherwise, that baby is gonna WAIL “Who dares disturb my slumber!” and hot lava is gonna start flowing from Momma’s mouth. Do not get burned, my friend. Remember, touch nothing but the *lamp.

2.) Scenario: The checkout line at Target, the lady in front of you is SUPER pregnant.

Like maybe she shoved a watermelon down her shirt. Should you reach out and give her tummy a quick rub to verify? You COULD be stopping a shop-lifter. It’s your civic duty to make sure she’s legit pregnant, right? WRONG! Flip the script: picture that pregnant woman as a MAN with a giant beer gut. You would never stroke the Buddha belly of a strange man, would you? No, you wouldn’t. Don’t be a sexist. Don’t touch the almost certainly pregnant woman. Further, if you absolutely MUST say something to her just tell her she’s glowing. It’s pretty much the safest thing to say other than, (and I know this is hard but just try it) nothing at all.

3.) Scenario: Church just started when you spy an adorable little toddler with the world’s bounciest ringlets in the pew RIGHT in front of you.

How are you supposed to endure the entire service without reaching out and giving those coils a quick caress? Kids shouldn’t have such tempting, touchable tresses if they can’t tolerate the occasional tug. HOLD IT RIGHT THERE! You’re the adult here; act like it. Instead of coveting those curls, envision a head full of hissing SNAKES! If the thought of playing with Medusa’s hair doesn’t stop you, fold those sticky fingers and pray for some self control.

4.) Scenario: Typical day at the playground with those boring children you birthed yourself.

Naturally you love them, but you see them EVERY DAY. Meanwhile, all these NEW and interesting kids are zipping around, their parents practically buried in their phones. How dare they relax their vigilance? Maybe you should teach them a lesson. Invite one of those fresh faces to your van for some free candy. Whoa now, you are headed towards some criminal level OCTS activity! Perhaps the best exercise in this case is to PICTURE the inside of a jail cell. The food is garbage, all of the board games are missing pieces, and your roommate is quiet — quietly watching you in your sleep. Sound cool? No? Then maybe don’t act like a kidnapper! Instead try buying some wigs or fake mustaches for the kids you have, jazz them up a little. Remember, it’s always legal to hug YOUR kids.

5.) Scenario: Saturday at a busy Farmer’s Market and you notice a woman squeezing avocados — but never mind the avocados.

An adorable baby is strapped to her, precious little legs just a-danglin’ out in the open. Now those thighs look RIPE for the picking, maybe you should test them, just to make sure. FREEZE! Step away from the strange baby. Think back to the 1995 classic film, Outbreak. Remember patient zero, that fuzzy little capuchin monkey? So cute! Adorable even, but one little chomp from that chimp caused a deadly fever! The moral: undeniably cute does NOT equal definitely not dangerous. You never know, Momma might mistake you for a baby snatcher and beat you down with a sack of organic potatoes she just bought. Don’t put violence past Moms. We might be exhausted, but come at our kids and we will show you ALL the moves we learned in kick-boxing class.

6.) Scenario: Guzzling free wine and pretending to appreciate the art at a gallery opening, when a woman with uniquely styled hair steps within chatting distance.

You wonder what her hair feels like. Is it soft? Look, I know this mysterious mane is fascinating, but you MUST resist the urge to investigate. Hair is extremely personal and as someone who is often on the receiving end of the question, “Can I touch your hair?” lemme share a secret:  we don’t want you to touch our hair. Even if we grin and bare it out of politeness, WE DO NOT WANT YOU TO TOUCH OUR HAIR. If you’re that intrigued by a certain style, ask your stylist if you can achieve it. If she laughs in your face, try making some friends with the kind of coifs you’re curious about, develop a rapport and then maybe ONE DAY after LOTS of non-creepy bonding, ask your FRIEND if you can touch her hair.

In conclusion, the desire for touch, physical interaction with other humans, is completely normal and natural. The key to keeping it cool, not creepy is to focus your affection on people you actually know. Want to snuggle a baby but don’t know any? Many hospitals actually need volunteers to hold premature infants when their parents are otherwise unavailable. Want unconditional love 24/7? Adopt a dog! At the present moment, our local Gulf Coast animal shelters in Gautier and Gulfport are well over capacity, which basically guarantees you’ll find a great fit no matter how many hugs you have to give.