Why We Get Tickled (and How to Deal With It)

Presumably, some people really enjoy being tickled. But for most of us, it’s an excruciating experience filled with awkward, involuntary laughter. Whether you like it tickling or not, you may wonder why your body is responding this way. So here’s an explanation of why we get tickled in the first place, and some tips on how to deal with it.

Why are we ticklish

Hank Green, host of the SciShow YouTube channel, explains the evolutionary roots of our ticklishness and why we laugh when it happens:

Tickling is divided to two main types : Knismesis – or tingling sensation that makes you itch or rub the place as if there is an insect – and Gargalesis . The wriggling, laughing and breathtaking sight is Gargalesis, and it is triggered by touching certain places. The armpits, ribs, neck, and inner thigh are all ticklish areas, and the reason is that they are some of your most vulnerable areas to attack.

Some scientists believe that we laugh and writhe when we touch us, because this is an evolutionary mechanism designed to teach self-defense. We try to remove tickling hands from these zones, but at the same time we involuntarily laugh. But why?

In an article in the Healthline explained that when someone we tickled , it stimulates our hypothalamus – a brain area that is responsible for your emotional reaction, your fight or flight response and pain. So if you hate being tickled but still laughing – which is usually taken as a positive response – it’s because you have an autonomous emotional reaction. In fact, the jerky movements we make with our bodies when we are tickled actually mimic how people react when they are in intense pain.

Tickling can also serve as a type of social bond, according to an article in Vox :

It is one of the earliest forms of parent-child communication, and is also a way for young children to play with their friends. So maybe, the researchers say, tickling is a way to connect with people. (This is not the case for everyone, though, as some people find tickling painful.)

How to (try) to overcome the tickle

But what can you do to avoid being so delicate? Some people can hardly be touched without experiencing Gargalesis, but it all comes to mind from matter. Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to get tickled, but if you can convince yourself that you don’t feel tickled, it might help.

Have you ever tried to tickle an angry person? It probably didn’t work due to their mental state. The next time a tickling rocket attacks you, close your eyes and focus on something that doesn’t tickle. Then tell yourself that you don’t get tickled in your head over and over. If you feel like you can’t be close or close because of tickling, place your hand on his arm when he touches you. This is how many masseurs treat sensitive clients.

This story was originally published on 1/14/15 and was updated on 9/19/19 to provide more complete and up-to-date information.


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