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Paraphila is an umbrella term used to cover the family of philias. In sexology, it is sometimes more widely used to cover atypical sexual interests or deviances. While the word paraphilia may seem alien, the philias it encompasses may seem slightly familiar. Think fetishes and unusual desires and you're on the right track!

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Tickle Your Fancy!

Does the thought of a feather hovering close to your foot set your sole alight? Or perhaps fingertips trailing up your spine sends your nervous system quivering? What is it about the tickle that makes it so exciting?

Evolutionist Charles Darwin was the first scientist recorded who gave serious thought to this peculiar thrill. In The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals , Darwin detailed these involuntary spasms in all walks of life, concluding that it helps form and maintain social bonds by causing laughter and fun. The key to success appears to be the element of surprise as Darwin pointed out:"the precise point to be tickled must not be known".

Tickling divides mankind into those who are ticklish and those who tickle it seems. While tickling sends most into fits of giggles, for some it can cause great discomfort and distress. For one growing community, however, it sends them to the peaks of arousal.

Ed, 53, said of his fetish:"I love nothing more than to tie a woman down, sending her her crazy with tortuous tickles. Seeing her body resisting my touch yet wanting so much more at the same time turns me on. I guess I love introducing women to this pleasure and doing everything I can to increase it."

"After all," the tickle lover adds, "there's no better way to bring a smile to my face than to hear, see, taste and smell a woman cumming over and over again."

Many 'lees' and 'lers', like Ed, enjoy tickling as part of foreplay, however for some it is a stand-alone activity verging on platonic. Technically, as a game of dominance and submission, it is a BDSM activity, however it's not recognised by the BDSM community as mainstream. As with any pursuit of BDSM-fun, personal safety is paramount and rules of play and safety words should be used.

Of his preference for light bondage while engaging in tickling Ed says: "There's something empowering and enjoyable for both of us as she's laying there spread-eagled and at my tickling mercy. I could just tie her up I suppose, but what do either of us gain out me humiliating her?"

"Especially as I'm hoping she'll return the favour," he adds.

Ed believes that the internet has helped him not only learn but embrace his fetish. For those wanting to learn more about tickling, he suggests forums such as The Tickling Media Forum and Tickling Theater.

In the name of research, I trawled through the message boards and was surprised by not only the high level of activity on these forums but just how deep the obsession runs. On the Tickling Media Forum, a discussion of one member's resentment of his fetish led another, Boomtown313 to write about how the fetish fit in his life. He wrote: "For me, the albatross was the damn Mr. Hyde mentality that I'd slip into. If you know what I'm talking about, come on raise your hands. I'd spend an entire night reading tickling stories. I'd stop to watch a video. Then I'd find a ticklish girl and IM her till I couldn't keep my eyes open. Gorging on internet tickling material, like a pig rolling around in mud, overdosed my libido, knocked me way off balance, and made pursuing ticklelust my Prime Directive."

I guess tickling is not much different from other fetishes in that it creates such immense pleasure and arousal that it verges on addiction. Left out of control, your desire can interfere with not only your's but others' functions in life...and not in a giggle-filled tickle kind of way!

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