Chills, Thrills and Skin Orgasms
From The Believer:
I call them “the fevers,” the waves that surge up my back and arms, break into electric foam at the jetty of my neck when her fingers move at a certain depth inside of me. A momentary influenza of pleasure.
The word frisson, from the French meaning “a shiver or thrill,” was used in a 2014 Frontiers in Psychology paper to describe “transcendent, psychophysiological moment[s] of musical experience.” Other studies have employed the terms “chills,” “thrills” and “skin orgasms” to describe such responses to music, which include both physical and emotional sensations.
In all the studies that I encountered, the element of surprise, or the upset of expectations, seemed integral to a pointed physiological pleasure in music. Notes that stray from the brain’s anticipation, but without disrupting the musicality to become simple noise, reliably produce emotional surges, goose bumps, and electric sensations on the skin—frisson. Common culprits? Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” and Adele’s “Someone Like You.”
It’s odd,” says a friend on the phone later, “that you can write so explicitly about sex, your sex, but can’t listen to it.”
“I mean, it’s not sex.”
“Do you think you could listen to a recording of yourself having sex, then?”
“Oh no, definitely not.”
Image by jon madison