Why We Are Ticklish? Why We Laugh When We Are Tickled by Body Language Expert Patti Wood

My sister Jan was a great big sister, well, except when it came to tickle fights. Nine years older than me, she had a defiant advantage and so I would be left laughing and crying, Uncle. Well, it was actually tougher, my family had lived in Okinawa so I had to say Uncle using the term the family used when we lived there. Not real Japanese work ."Oji" or "Ossan" but Uncleokasimio." It was a challenge to stay in the best of circumstances and daunting when being tickled. Did you get into tickle fights as a kid?

I just submitted my notes for a possible Readers Digest for a story on Tickling. I did research on Sneezing when I was the national spokesperson for Benadryl and have written about laughter and find the limbic system response to tickling fascinating. Here are some of my rough notes.
I have researched many areas related to tickling this such as sneezing and laughter.
Our primitive brain is wired to respond quickly to danger. Tickling, which typically involves touching the skin at vulnerable parts of the body, (stomach, side, armpits, feet, neck) stimulates the hypothalamus into a freeze, fight, fight, fall, or faint. The touch nerve receptors can register the tickling as pleasure, surprise, and or pain.
Some people have more sensitive nerve receptors so they may register the tickling as more painful and sometimes the tickler may not stop tickling or use another more aggressive body language on the tickle victim, causing the person tickled to feel more danger and escalate their danger response to feel more pain.
What I find most interesting is that people laugh when they are tickled, even when they are tickled by a machine. The laughter serves two purposes. It acts as a defense mechanism, automictic nervous system response to pain and danger that communicated your submission so the tickling stops, submissions without aggression. We may be unable to access the neocortex, the logical thinking brain, where word language resides to be able to stay stop and or cry Uncle so the laughter is are submissive cry to make it stop. The laughter also serves a bonding ritual, even creating a mirroring response of laughter in the other person.


Patti Wood, MA - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com.