Tickle torture is the use of tickling to abuse, dominate, humiliate or even "prank" someone. The victim laughs even if he or she finds the experience unpleasant because the laughter is an innate reflex rather than social conditioning. The term is often used to describe the act of tickling when prolonged for a long period of time in a sensitive area of the body.
Chinese tickle torture is a term used in Western Society to describe an ancient form of torture practiced by the Chinese, in particular the courts of the Han Dynasty. Chinese tickle torture was a punishment for nobility since it left no marks and a victim could recover relatively easily and quickly.
Another example of tickle torture was used in Ancient Rome, where a person’s feet were dipped in a salt solution, and a goat was brought in to lick the solution off. This type of tickle torture would only start as tickling, eventually becoming extremely painful.
Consensual tickle torture
In the world of sexual fetishism, tickle torture is an activity between consenting partners. A torture session usually begins with one partner allowing the other to tie them up in a position that lays bare parts of the body particularly that are sensitive to tickling. Though many parts of the human body are deemed ticklish, tickle torture is commonly associated with the tickling of the bare feet or armpits.
The bondage methods of the tickling usually follows the same basic methods. The object of the bondage is to render the victim unable to remove themselves from the tickling, as well as rendering the tickling areas of the victim vulnerable.
The restraint of the arms above the head will leave the upper body and underarms susceptible to the tickling.
Evidence of tickle torture
Template:Inappropriate tone There are a small number of documented instances of tickle torture in The New York Times. They happened in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and in these instances restrained victims were tickled upon the bare soles of their feet, apparently against their will and for the pleasure of their tormentors.
There is currently no evidence that tickle torture was ever widespread or was practiced by governments. The very small amount of related documentation discovered thus far originates from England and the United States.
A 1903 article described an immobilized suicidal patient at the Hudson River State Hospital who was tied to a bed for his own safety. While he lay helpless, the patient's toes were multiplied by one of the hospital attendants, Frank A. Sanders. "Sanders is said to have confessed that while intoxicated he amused himself by tickling the feet and ribs of Hayes and pulling his nose." Sanders also gave his restrained victim a black eye. Another hospital employee came upon Sanders while he was entertaining himself at his patient's expense, and the criminal was brought before a grand jury.
An 1887 article entitled "England in Old Times" states "Gone, too, are the parish stocks, in which female offenders against public morality formerly sat imprisoned, with their legs held fast beneath a heavy wooden yoke, while sundry small but fiendish boys improved the occasion by deliberately pulling off their shoes and tickling the soles of the women's defenseless feet."
In 1872, the beating of a man's bare feet was described in an article entitled "Terrible Punishments: The Russian Knout and Turkish Bastinado: How the Punishments are Inflicted." The author, while explaing the intense pan caused by whipping, writes "I have heard men cry out in agony...but I never heard such heart-rending sounds as those from the poor bastinadoed wretch before me. Such is the bastinado. And of the intenseness of the agony which its infliction produces, one has only to think of the congeries or plexus of delicate nerves which have their terminus in the feet. Even tickling the soles of the feet has often produced death; what then must be the excruciating pain when cruel violence is done to those most sensitive members?"
For reasons unknown, women's feet were generally the victim of tickle torture, while men's feet suffered the more painful fate of whipping.
- Carol Yoon (June 3, 1997), Anatomy of a Tickle Is Serious Business at the Research Lab, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/03/science/anatomy-of-a-tickle-is-serious-business-at-the-research-lab.html
- Irene Thompson (2008-03), A to Z of Punishment and Torture, Book Guild Publishing, p. 183, ISBN 9781846242038, http://books.google.com/?id=TE2KfBWPAt0C&pg=PA183
- "Treated Patient Brutally". New York Times. September 6, 1903.
- Ker, David (November 13, 1887). "England in Old Times". New York Times.
- L.G.C. (April 14, 1872\). "Terrible Punishments: The Russian Knout and Turkish Bastinado: How the Punishments are Inflicted". New York Times.