For some people, tickling is a positive experience while others cringe. Really. Me, I am immune to tickling. I mean, I just sit there wondering what is going on. And no – I am NOT telling you the parts that DO get tickled.
Did you know about the world’s first tickle spa – CosquilleArte in Madrid. You can go there to have therapists work on you with their fingertips or feathers to relax you. Who knew?
So – whatever your reaction – here are some facts about tickling:
What happens when you are tickled?
When someone tickles us, the nerve endings in the skin tell that part of your brain which initiates movement. The unexpected touch results in a tickling sensation.
Tickling is great for bonding
When you’re tickled you laugh. Depending on who is doing it, it can also be a great way to build relationships, according to Charles Darwin. So, now you know what is happening when you see a Mom tickling her baby and it results in delightful giggles and gurgles. There’s some loving happening there, alright. It is the same with couples in a relationship.
Tickling is also perceived as our body’s security alert. Animals feel the same thing. It is a response to perceived danger, somewhat similar to a horse flicking its tail at an annoying fly.
Can you tickle yourself?
I say yes. But apparently it is difficult to surprise our own brains because our brain already knows and anticipates our action and this does not produce the reaction that being tickled by someone else would.
What about when you visit your doc and have to be examined? Apparently, you can place your hand over the doctor’s and trick your brain into thinking that you are the one tickling yourself. As if. What to do when someone suddenly starts the examining? Figure it out.
Are there particular places that are more responsive to tickling?
Not really, although for most people, that part of their sides from the armpits to the waist are prime target. Soles of the feet also, yes. I know people who cannot stand being touched there. Not yours truly though. Then there is the ear, the breasts and the lady/gent parts. Pleasurable tickling could be the backs of the knees and front of the elbows, the top part of the feet and so on. Depends on the individual, I think.
I am a big fan of the foot-tickle. Whenever we watch TV or sit together to do something, I am already trying to get Sury or Vidur to tickle the soles of my feet. I love it. Yes, I am sensitive and it is that sensation I enjoy. Ah, the hours my Mom has done this for me. I developed the habit way back when I was in the sixth grade – when I was in a boarding school. As kids, two of us shared one bed. I even remember her name – Michelle. She would ask me to tickle her sole while she tickled mine. And thus a lifelong habit started. It is a big joke at home now. They bribe me with this, you know, when they want me to do something. There, one of my secrets is out!
But let’s move on, shall we!
Tickle can equal torture for some
So maybe you are one of those people who hate being tickled. If it makes you feel better, apparently tickling was a form of corporal punishment in the 16th century where Protestants would tickle the offenders to death. Ancient Romans also did this. They were more creative. They soaked the lawbreaker’s feet in salt and then brought in goats to lick them off. (I dare you not to laugh) Which is probably where we get the expression “tickled to death” from.
Tickling could be flirting or a show of affection
Enough said? Think lovers and friends of the opposite sex.
You lose the sensation as you grow older
I don’t know about that. But since I am not a representative of the human population re: tickling, it seems that people who are under 40 get tickled more than those under 40. Oh maybe they don’t appreciate it as much (as I do). Scientifically, hormonal changes are likely to reduce the response with age – which is probably why older people become grumpy when someone tickles them.
Tickling is a weight loss method
Now we’re talking. But here’s the logic. When we are tickled, we laugh (most of us, that is). Laughing burns calories. Okay? So not as many calories as hitting your gym or a jog around the block can burn, but you know what they say “every calorie counts” when it comes to weight loss!
Tickle Me Elmo – that toy, sold out of stores in minutes after it was launched and the $29 toy sold for up to $2000. Yikes!
It was the same with the Sesame Street characters: Cookie Monster, Ernie and Big Bird.
People loved them because the toys laughed and wiggled when they were tickled. So that is another fact for you: it is all about reciprocation. If there’s no reaction, there’s no fun. Kind of applies to so many things in life, right?
Men vs. Women
Gender bias here, also? It seems men are more receptive to tickling than women. One of the reasons cited for this is women’s experiences related to “non-consensual or non-reciprocal sexual touching”. That makes sense.
That fickle tickle
Why are some people more ticklish than others? Who knows? I’d agree that it is all about the tickler-ticklee relationship since we tend to react differently with different people. An apt example is the feeling of pleasure when being tickled by a lover and that feeling of being tortured when it is your older brother.
So folks, I have two questions for you:
• What do you think about tickling? Love it? Hate it? Tolerate it?
• Which parts of you feel the most ticklish?
As my friend Terri writes, a little randomness never hurt anybody!
There is always room for interpretation. Ask Unknown Mami!