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Knismesis along with gargalesis are the scientific terms, coined in 1897 by psychologists G. Stanley Hall and Arthur Allin,[1] used to describe the two types of tickling.


Knismesis refers to the light, feather-like type of tickling. This type of tickling generally does not induce laughter and is often accompanied by an itching sensation.[2] The knismesis phenomenon requires low levels of stimulation to sensitive parts of the body, and can be triggered by a light touch or by a light electrical current. Knismesis can also be triggered by crawling insects or parasites, prompting scratching or rubbing at the ticklish spot, thereby removing the pest. It is possible that this function explains why knismesis produces a similar response in many different kinds of animals.[2] In a famous example, described in Peter Benchley's Shark!, it is possible to tickle the area just under the snout of a great white shark, putting it into a near-hypnotic trance.[3]


ReferencesEdit

  1. Hall, G. S., and A. Allin. (1897) The psychology of tickling, laughing and the comic. The American Journal of Psychology 9:1–42.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Harris, Christine R. (1999): The mystery of ticklish laughter. American Scientist, July–August v87 i4 p344(8).
  3. The word knismesis New Scientist, 7 December 2002.

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