Physical sensation of emotion

This might just be me being weird. I’m wondering if anyone else has had this experience, or similar. Sometimes recently when I have a really strong emotional response to something I get a really odd physical sensation like a truncated shiver, but a bit more complicated than that. I have multiple spinal cord lesions and I’m wondering if this could be connected. The feeling starts with an emotion - positive or negative - then it progresses to a physical feeling like it wants to be a shiver running down my spine, but it can’t seem to go all the way down, so it spreads sideways into my back and sides and becomes almost painful.

Has anyone else experienced such a thing or do I sound like I’m wittering? I almost want to avoid strong emotions cos the feeling is quite unpleasant and borders on pain. Today when my partner gave me a close hug I felt like a response to our physical closeness and that was painful too and I suddenly became very conscious of the neuropathy in my legs. This is embarrassing a bit. I feel lately like I’m wired all wrong and what I hadn’t thought of before is how much your body and emotional and intimate life are all bound up together and how this might be affected too by lesions because they break up the nerve signals that would normally communicate all these feelings quite seamlessly.

I’m either saying something off the wall weird, or else something really obvious. I don’t know which!

I think everybody may have experienced what we call a shudder: "I shudder at the thought . . . "so I guess the mechanism that evokes such a response can be triggered to an abnormal extent or perhaps misfire, or become much more sensitive to being triggered as a result of damage somewhere in the CNS. It actually seems rather similar to some very violent myoclonic jerks that I have sometimes felt were triggered by an anxious or concerned thought coming to mind.


I haven’t had that exact same thing, but heightened symptoms in response to stress is a well-known phenomenon, and I suppose any strong emotion is a type of stress (a psychologist once told me excitement and anxiety are physiologically indstinguishable - we just give them a different label, depending on the context).

With me, I used to get worse symptoms - particularly in conflict situations - even quite mild, non-threatening ones.

A classic example I often use is when some well-meaning but over-pushy friends phoned to try to persuade me to go round for dinner. It was very kind of them, but I just didn’t want to, and they wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’m sure if they’d realised they were making me feel uncomfortable, they wouldn’t have been so persistent, but they thought they were being kind.

Anyway, I finally got off the phone, having made my excuses, and realised my legs had gone weak!

I may never have been that good at dealing with disagreement, but I didn’t used to go literally weak at the knees over anything as minor as having to turn down an unwanted invitation. So that was definitely the illness.

I say “used to”, because it’s not as noticeable these days - I had it worst when I was recovering from a particularly bad relapse.

But still, if I get agitated, certain things flare up.


Thanks both for your replies. mrbobowen, what you say about a shudder makes a lot of sense. I would describe it as sort of like a shudder that gets derailed, and then the “energy” from the shudder becomes almost a spasm somewhere else, so yes, maybe similar to the myoclonic jerks you describe.

Tina, oh wow, I so relate to that about friends - I find social invitations really stressful right now cos I’m just not feeling up to it. It must be hard to deal with the leg weakness on top of the stress, and yes, it sounds like it’s related. It’s helpful to hear these experiences for me cos I’m trying to get used to this stuff and find words to describe it. My friends, colleagues, even my partner are not quite sure what I’m on about!

Hi space monkey, totally identifying with ur post as get a sensation rubbibg down my right arm to my fingers, uncomfortable rather than painful, but happens when I get emotional. Am pretty emotional person so this happens a lot and now sort of take it as an indicator that im getting upset and need to calm down. Am cis and waiting to see about ms. Did tell neuro about this one but he paid v little attention to it. So ur post really useful. Thanks, F