Okay, let’s just get this out of the way right now: Frisson is a scientific term for the feeling your body gets when you have chills running over your skin or you get goosebumps from a sensation related to music. Some researchers even call it “skin orgasm”.
You know the feeling: you hear a song from your high school prom and it instantly takes you back to another time and place and it sends shivers down your spine? Those shivers are frisson (pronounced free-sawn).
If you’ve never experienced this sensation before, you might be one of the 22-45% of the world’s population who don’t experience this feeling. Sorry about that.
It’s amazing to think that an external sound could have such a physiological impact on our bodies. Music strikes memories where memories were once lost, it changes our mood dramatically, and it makes our bodies quiver. But it’s just a sound? Music experts know how to bring about those feelings in people in the movies, on television and in art forms such as the opera, orchestra, and more.
Are chills a leftover survival tactic?
While the jury is still out on why humans get goosebumps when they listen to music, many scientists believe this physiological response is a leftover survival tactic from when humans were exposed to more extreme conditions and goosebumps kept us warm.
Since we don’t need those physiological responses as much anymore, the body still has the occasional need to act up when the body is stimulated in a particular way: namely, through intense music.
There is a growing trend in Youtube videos from all over the world called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) in which numerous sounds and feelings bring about similar reactions in people as Frisson. We’ve added a popular Youtube video at the bottom of this article designed to give you these chills.
Sounds like brushing of hair, tapping fingernails, and flipping book pages all elicit a physiological response in people that causes their hair to stand on its ends and they get chills down their spin.
The most exciting examples of frisson occur when powerful music is playing, or when people are emotionally invested in a piece of music; say, from a favorite movie or song they danced to during a fun night out with the girls.
Other art forms that can cause frisson to come about in people are particularly interesting works of art; many people report being moved to tears while seeing paintings such as the Mona Lisa, or seeing statues such as the Madonna and Child.
These works of art elicit such a powerful response in people that their bodies have a physical reaction. Without ever touching the works, their bodies react to the sensation of the thoughts the person is experiencing.
So the next time you find yourself scanning through the radio stations and a favorite song comes on, pay attention to how your body feels when it hears that song.
Do you have positive memories or negative memories associated with the song? How is your body reacting? Is your hair standing up? Do you have goosebumps? If you are one of the lucky ones, your body will react in some way. I say lucky because being able to feel art, as well as see it, is a magical experience and one that won’t soon be forgotten.
Here’s a Youtube video that’s been viewed over 2 million times that’s designed to give you those feel good chills. Let us know in the comments if you experience them!