Have you ever had a skin orgasm? Or, have you ever even heard of one? Whether you call it a shiver or a frisson: you know you want one. Dr David Jack explains all…
What is a skin orgasm?
“A ’skin orgasm’ is a term coined to describe the physiological reaction seen in the skin when there is a particularly strong emotional reaction to a trigger in the environment. It doesn’t happen to everyone but it is believed to be a phylogenetic remnant from when we had fur, for example when the hair on the back of a cat or dog stands on end when it is threatened. They are related to sudden activation of the sympathetic nervous system that causes sudden contraction of the tiny erector pili muscles associated with hair follicles in certain areas of the skin,” says Dr David Jack.
What sort of experiences could trigger a skin orgasm?
Usually this would be related to an emotional type response to either an auditory (heard) or visual experience, such as a musical stimulus (there are certain pieces that are associated with this) and seeing something particularly stimulating in a film, for example.
How long do they last?
Usually they would last a few seconds, transient and brief.
Can every person experience them?
Most people do but in some this evolutionary remnant has been lost.
Where on the skin do they occur?
Usually these happen in areas of the body that would have been hair bearing in our ancestors, for example the forearms, back shoulders and legs.
Can we force a skin orgasm?
We can certainly watch things that are known to stimulate these in the hope that they do, but it is difficult to consciously stimulate the sympathetic nervous system!
Listen to Zoe Cormier, scientist and author of “The Science of Hedonism and Hedonism of Science” discuss the frisson effect with our editor Hettie on the DOSE podcast.
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Main image: Lynx