Hair raising, skin orgasming or generally goosebumping


Chickening out might be the fowl term carrying the connotation of a certain experience of fear, or rather in being the response to it. And yet that all so common phenomenon in occurrence characterising not just us humans but also other species of the animal world asserting among other things an allusion to the notion of the hair raising encounters finds expression instead as something in the universal goosey reference. Indeed we are by all means trying to understand the complete logic in what makes goosebumps not find that propriety in global rulings when it sounds instead as the more ‘sensible’ utterance of chicken skin but even beyond this matter in considerable contemplation, goosebumps still are intriguing enough a phenomenon to pique our curiosity in the almost ordinary but curious still experiencing of it.

We might have started off with the goosebump inducing factor of the spooky but the very perceptible nature of this happening is primarily interpreted as being a reflex to the experience of the cold. Most prominently understood in its accompanying the shivering ‘symptom’ of feeling an immense amount of cold would be the goosebumps narration that in availing thus out of a natural bodily function characterising the category of the warm blooded animals is therefore really eternal an awareness. And yet, it is in this same shiver of the cold feels that also crossovers into the realm of the terrifying that makes shivering and therefore goosebumps equally pertaining of the horror aspect of perception. Just for the record though, the overlapping of these two spectrums of experiences in the cold and in fearfulness cannot be any more evident with such phrases as ‘sending chills down the spine’ employing the necessarily cold element of the chills to deliver the impression of the frightening as well.

why we get goosebumps
Source: NPR

Availing thus out of these dual premises as corollary of each other therefore but not contented in its taking upon *just* a double role would be these tiny prickly pops of the goosebumps that tend to take all over the body expanse that boasts of some volume of hair but still harbours a special affinity for the forearm across which it manifests more than prominently. Likewise the assertion of them might be the most ‘happening’ when faced with the shivers either of cold or of fear but goosebumps would be as likely to accompany certain very heartening or overwhelming emotional experiences. Whether that be translating physically the intrinsic states of shock or anxiety, or stemming out of the euphoria of excitement or the intense flowing of music into the deepest entrenches of the soul or even through the arousing mannerism of sexual incitation, goosebumps are no stranger responses to a multitude of the living experiences.

In fact so integral to the whole emotional ambit is this idiomic sounding but very literal expression of the hair raising experience that it conjures up for itself also a parallel identity of the skingasm or more generally referring to a certain orgasm of the skin. Like goosebumps themselves that are more technically alluded to in such terms as piloerection or pilomotor reflex or horripilation, skingasm too takes upon the frisson identity in its psychophysiological response essence that shapes up rather aptly as the artistic elocution in aesthetic chills or musical chills. And yet, even beyond these dual premises of very innate and evolutionary basis across which goosebumps occur, these rather accurate relaying in all visibility of the emotions also tread a trail somewhat distinctive.

Not just unique but somewhat surprising as well is the ability of some humans to trigger in themselves this reflex of otherwise involuntary leaning and in such readiness of its ‘feeling’ as something very natural that might even lead them to believe this particular rendition to be as universal as the characteristic occurrence of what is a bodily response to certain awarenesses. No less awe inspiring than the association furthered by this experience out of such instances of awe indeed whether it be of the emotions or of some physical realisation is this ingrained capacity of some among us that cannot however be acquired by the rest of the world through learning or attempting. Even the awareness of this skill in specialness tends to happen in spontaneity and therefore as something as ordinary as any other life process which should therefore accrue to all in general. Effortless as well hence in its very natural mode in kicking off this phenomenon by increasing the heart rate through some creation of muscular tension at the base of the head after which it propagates down the back and onto the forearm to depict in all evidence that raised hair platform of the forearm is this striking ability in stimulation that interestingly commands interpretation relating to other integral scouting of the existential.

goose bumps
Source: Healthline

Those folks who reside in this extraordinary mode of functioning of their bodies are almost always found to rest in a disposition of often extreme openness. And while that might speak of the ‘influence’ they tend to have upon others by veritably dictating the fore of what is essentially a response to stimuli or what can be interpreted in other words as a control therefore upon the extent of their emotions, the reason behind this correlation in self experimenting either way isn’t as certain as the very definite occurring of it. But that doesn’t invalidate any iota of the surprise element nestled in this certain but rare still possession of an oxymoronic ‘involuntary ability’ since a scientific indeed exploration of the physiological does not really account for this trait of innateness to unfurl so much as an independent entity by itself.

Originating from the sympathetic nervous system but not engaging a nerval perspective in directing this process in largely involuntariness are the goosebumps phenomenon triggered by the tiny muscles resting at the base of each hair follicle, the arrector pili muscle to be specific, that contracts upon the encounter of some experience prominent enough to assert itself as stimuli enough. Devoid thus of this nerve connection and relying upon the muscles that do not really inhabit in such direct connection to the brain, this exertion of control upon the occurrence of goosebumps tends to be a stark contrast to what the science pertaining to the living body has long established. Without any sort of motor impulse possible dictating this transition of the skin texture from a smooth to a bumpy one, this ability to impose one’s own upon the premise in consideration, or to make the impossibility of the matter more apparent this dictating of the terms governing an uncontrollable response to evoke deliberately the exact same reaction happens to be a revelation rather unsettling.

For those owning this weird trick in raising their body hair as and when they want to is not very different from those able to cry tears out of nothing in particular. But in being more rare a case in encountering and definitely less brainy in that it does not entail out of the most important organ of the human body, driving oneself to getting just what they desire on the (goose)bumpy ground is rather startling a proposition indeed, not to mention the actual achieving of it.

It however isn’t just this version of the inexplicable that goosebumps adhere to that make them intriguing a concept way beyond their (emotional) essence. This process of the physiological tends to be also as true in its hairy stance across the immense ‘potential’ of it. For indeed, getting goose bumps has been found to be boosting hair growth which isn’t very surprising just how so evocative this phenomenon happens to be in its ubiquitous ‘hair on end’ deliverance. What transpires is that the tiny arrector pili muscles already mentioned above are connected to such nerves that are also connected to the hair follicle stem cells responsible for hair growth. So while the goosebumps make their mark upon the skin due to the contraction of the muscles upon the instructions of the nearby sympathetic nerves as a response to a host of emotional and/ or physical experiences, the latter also acts upon their connection with the follicle cells to stimulate hair growth and regeneration making thus for also the more physical pursuit of the aesthetics. This might also be the reason why animals endemic to colder regions have thicker fur; the continuous experience of the chills that mean therefore as long an association with goosebumps might have led them on this path of evolution to emerge as hairy, furry creatures to better deal with the cold climes of their residing.

Goosebumps might be a universal reflex or lesser universal a controlled ‘character’ but they can rarely be interpreted as symptoms of underlying diseases as well. A sign of seizure disorders like temporal lobe epilepsy or of disorders relating to the sympathetic nervous system as well as of the brain, goosebumps though also can appear as a classic case of withdrawal symptoms. Deaddiction to heroin or other opiates very often sees skin hair all spring up on end and in such manner so significant that has even taken to a literal form of expression. The goosebumps typically developing during withdrawal supposedly mimics cold turkey flesh and this is how the all so daring practice of ‘quitting cold turkey’ came to be. No matter however the vast scope of its working as different reflexes of its nature, one thing is certain- these hair raising experiences in profoundness somehow still manage to ruffle up quite a few feathers of the poultry!