Tickle torture is the act of tickling someone against his/her will as a form of interrogation or with the aim of humiliating or dominating the victim.
There are some evidences of this torture scattered throughout history.
Tickle torture was used in ancient Rome, where a person’s feet were dipped in a salt solution, and a goat was brought in to lick the solution off. This type of tickle torture would only start as tickling, eventually becoming extremely painful.
This kind of torture was also practiced by the Chinese, in particular the courts of the Han Dynasty. Chinese tickle torture was perpetrated by just the means of a feather brushing against the victim’s feet soles for a prolonged time and it was a punishment for nobility since it left no marks and the tortured could recover relatively easily and quickly.
In ancient Japan, those in positions of authority could administer punishments to those convicted of crimes that were beyond the criminal code. This was called shikei, which translates as ‘private punishment.’ One such torture was kusuguri-zeme: “merciless tickling.”
In the 17th century, during the wars of religion in Germany between Protestants and Catholics (1618-1648) in Rothenburg, some men labeled as heretics were tormented and even killed through the employment of the torture of the goat’s tongue or foot feather tickling.
An 1887 article entitled “England in Old Times” states “Gone, too, are the parish stocks, in which offenders against public morality formerly sat imprisoned, with their legs held fast beneath a heavy wooden yoke, while sundry small but fiendish boys improved the occasion by deliberately pulling off their shoes and tickling the soles of their defenseless feet.”
Heinz Heger, a man persecuted in the Flossenbürg concentration camp during World War II, describes, in his book The Men With The Pink Triangle, an event when Nazi prison guards perform tickle torture on a fellow inmate, followed by various other tortures which resulted in his death (click here to read the whole passage).
Probably the most famous enthusiast of this torture was Vlad the Impaler, best known with the name of Dracula.