Science Explains Why Tickling Kids Can Be Harmful, and It Turns Out We Don’t Know Enough About It

3. Tickling has been used to torture people for ages.

Tickling has long since been used as a way of torture. During the Han Dynasty in China, tickling was a way of torturing nobility as it left no marks and the victim could recover relatively easily and quickly. It was also popular in Japan where they even coined a special word for it: kusuguri-zeme, which means “merciless tickling”.

Vernon R. Wiehe from the University of Kentucky studied 150 adults who were abused by their siblings during childhood. Many of the study subjects reported tickling as a type of physical abuse. The study concluded that tickling can provoke extreme physiological reactions in the victim such as vomiting and loss of consciousness due to the inability to breathe.

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