General Question

AstroChuck's avatar

Why can't we tickle ourselves?

Asked by AstroChuck (37378points) August 30th, 2008

I saw this question somewhere on the internet once. It was asked as a joke, but I think it is a valid question.

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22 Answers

rowenaz's avatar

I tickle myself. But that’s x-rated. I also tickle my funny bone – and I walk down the hallways where I work laughing my ass off over something I did or said. I’m an idiot, really. But I make myself laugh at my own stupidity.

seVen's avatar

we don’t have no feathers to do it :)

flyawayxxballoon's avatar

I can’t be tickled by other people when I know that they’re going to tickle me, so my guess is that when we know we’re going to be tickled, that “tickling” sensation just doesn’t come. I think that it only works when the element of surprise is present.

trudacia's avatar

The thought makes me cringe! I am SO ticklish. I can’t even enjoy a massage. It’s actually painful.

loki's avatar

sadly, some people can.
I was tickle abused as a child, now I am hyper sensitive, I dislike being touched (except sexually)
And can tickle my own feet tho I avoid it at all costs, just happens accidentally sometimes

stratman37's avatar

It’s a trust thing. You can’t tickle yourself because it’s too much like scratching, and you KNOW you’re doing it. Plus you kinda fear the other person is going to go too far, and hurt you (on some subconscious level).

jcs007's avatar

When my girlfriend and I started going out, she was super-ultra-hyper-uber ticklish. 5 years later, I think I’ve tickled the crap out of her. She is no longer ticklish =(

As for the question: I believe it has something to do with Knismesis and Gargalesis. Try tickling yourself by lightly touching a feather on the foot and on your side. Then try tickling yourself as if someone else would do it.

According to my careful, exact, precise, badass, scientific experimentation using a tail feather that my pet cockatiel molted, I have come to the conclusion that it is possible to perform self-ticklization by using light touch but not by using one’s own fingers in a manner that someone else would.

JackAdams's avatar

I was always told that you can’t tickle yourself, because your brain is receiving 2 touch sensations, simultaneously.

You are feeling the sensation(s) from the finger(s) doing the tickling, and you are at the same time feeling the sensations from the area being touched by your own finger(s).

So, as it was explained to me, your brain can’t process both of those feelings at the same time, and it becomes “confused” with two different sets of messages hitting it at the same time.

August 31, 2008, 1:27 AM EDT

stratman37's avatar

JA: try tickling yourself with a fork, or backscratcher, or something so that you wouldn’t feel the tickLING. Still doesn’t work.

JackAdams's avatar

You’re right! There is an “irritation” feeling, but not a tickling one.

Thanks for pointing that out to me, “Doctor.” LOL

August 31, 2008, 1:38 AM EDT

Knotmyday's avatar

Reflex control. Much the same way we can curb the blink reflex somewhat when removing an object (eyelash) from our eyes with our own fingers, and can’t when someone else does. We “steel” ourselves for the touch, because we control it.

JackAdams's avatar

@stratman37: I hope no one takes this wrong, but someone sent me a PM that says that we CAN tickle ourselves, because if we could NOT do so then, quoting that person, “Masturbation would be impossible.”

How would you reply to that?

August 31, 2008, 2:10 AM EDT

poofandmook's avatar

@JA: Self pleasure isn’t the same as tickling.

And, it is partially true. Haven’t you ever heard of “The Stranger”?

JackAdams's avatar

Both things involve self-touching, so if you can “suceed” with one kind of self-touch, then the other one should be equally successful.

That’s the sense I’m getting from the PM I received.

August 31, 2008, 2:29 AM EDT

poofandmook's avatar

besides, JA, you’re talking about places with huge bundles of nerves in them, as opposed to general body parts that may or may not be sensitive, depending on the person. The areas you’re referring to are designed that way exclusively for the purpose of sustaining the human race.

wildflower's avatar

When tickled, isn’t that a spontaneous reaction? How can you possibly react spontaneously to something you’re doing yourself?
Same thing if someone else is tickling you and you know beforehand exactly when, where and how, you won’t react to the tickle – although it’s just about impossible to know the exact nature of a tickle from someone else before it happens – if you did, it wouldn’t be a tickle so much as a strange kind of touch.

Oh, and I’m pretty sure stimulation is different from tickling. So for that other question, I guess that falls in the same category as massaging or scratching yourself….

AstroChuck's avatar

Not to offend, but at times, standing at the toilet when having difficulty getting all the pee out, I’ll lightly tickle my shoulder and that usually does the trick. It’s not exactly the same sensation as being tickled by others though.
Probably more info about me than you wanted to know.

thankgodforbeef's avatar

You can tickle the roof of your own mouth. Ugh, that feeling always makes me shudder.

AstroChuck's avatar

Hey, you’re right! With your finger or your tongue. Weird.

jballou's avatar

The reason you can’t tickle yourself is because of what tickling actually is- it’s not the physical touching that causes the tickling sensation- it’s the brain anticipating the feeling it’s about to receive from the tickling, which, by nature, can only come from an outside stimulus.

BoyWonder's avatar

I can’t tickle myself but I am extremely ticklish. My girl can’t touch me on my stomach without me cracking the hell up. Unless of course we’re about to do the deed, then I’m focused on not LMAO. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a mental thing. I’m sure if we concentrated hard enough on tickling ourselves, we could do it.

BoyWonder's avatar

Jballou: how do u explain babies who are ticklish? How would a baby anticipate the feeling of a tickle for the first time and be able to garner the same response if they never been tickled before?

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