Frisson (French for “shiver”), also known as aesthetic chills or music chills.
%FIRSTNAME%, I really want to know. Have you ever listened to a song and experienced frisson?
Some of us react more intensely to music than others. A study published in the Journal of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, concluded that those who reported music chills had a denser volume of brain fibres that connect the sections that process auditory information and emotions. More fibres mean you have more efficient processing between the two sections.
Those with stronger connections may feel more intense emotions generally, not just when listening to music.
Goosebumps and the fight or flight response
When you have intense emotions towards something, adrenaline is released and races through your body. A product of our fight or flight response. One theory is that adrenaline release could be linked to a surge in dopamine. Rewarding our body for the response.
One thing I know for sure is that rationalising and thinking your way out of pre-empting, worrying or even catastrophising is only half of the picture. We attach emotions to the thoughts and then store them up in the body.
Suppressing emotions is not only bad for our health but we can’t selectively numb them. This means that if we try really hard not to feel upset, anxious, embarrassed, angry, sad…we can suppress the worst of it. However, it has the equal and opposite effect on our “good” emotions, like joy, excitement, fulfilment, happiness…I call this “emotional flat lining”.
Occasionally a build-up of suppressed emotions will cause a volcanic eruption?
Maybe you have become very good at keeping yourself so busy or distracted you are numb? Netflix, Green & Blacks, responding to emails at 9pm anyone?
Music & Emotions
Another study found that music could help us manage our emotions. They found that playing “sad” songs counter-intuitively could make people happier.
I created a whole playlist that helps me move through emotions. From sad to angry, through to happy and euphoric. It really does work.
Much better than getting a phone call from a colleague to ask you to do something and crying as soon as you put the phone down. True story from my life in 2014.
It wasn’t about the request, it was about all the other things that had come before it.
PS Hit reply and let me know if you have ever experienced musical chills?
PPS Have you got a backlog of stored emotions just crying out for a musical playlist?