Tickle torture is a form of domination, humiliation and/or punishment that dominants use to exert power over submissives in BDSM scenes. Tickle torture may be used to reinforce dominant and submissive roles or punish a submissive. Aside from BDSM, tickling can also be a type of fetish play, and may appeal to people who fetishize armpits or feet. Some people who enjoy tickle torture say they are even able to orgasm just from being tickled.
Any part of the body may be tickled during tickle torture, including the underarms, soles of feet, backside, or inner thighs. It has been noted that the most ticklish parts of the body also tend to be the most vulnerable, which suggests that tickling (and the tickling of children) may have some evolutionary basis.
Tickling may be used alone or in conjunction with other BDSM techniques, like whipping or spanking. Using tickle torture with impact play can be very effective, as laughter releases endorphins, which raise an individual’s pain thresholds. It may also be used as a prequel to other sexual activities like watersports.
While we often associate tickling with a pleasurable feeling, research suggests it doesn't produce one so much as the involuntary appearance of one. There is some evidence that tickling has historically been used as a method of torture during some periods throughout history.