A while back, someone gave me a Chinese backscratcher: a piece of bamboo with a hand carved at the end with slightly separated fingers. I use it every couple of days when my back works up a good itch, and believe me, it provides substantial relief! Here’s what mine looks like:
But when I use it I’ve pondered two questions.
A.) Is the relief you get when scratching your back pleasure, or simply the removal of discomfort? (Or are they equivalent?) This same question applies when you finally make it to the restroom after having to hold your bowels or bladder for a long time. I wonder if philosophers have debated this question.
B.) Why do backs itch so much? I have two theories here, which are mine. The first is that they itch no more than do fronts (i.e., your chest), but we’re unconsciously scratching our fronts all the time, while we can’t reach our backs without a special implement. But I don’t notice myself scratching my chest.
The other is that dirt and oils accumulate on your back more than they do on your front, simply because you can’t reach your back so easily in the bath or shower. I don’t have a sponge on a stick or anything like that, and so am forced to wash my back by reaching around with a piece of soap. I’m never sure that does a great job because it’s hard to reach all the places. If any accumulated back schmutz makes you itch, this could be an explanation.
Maybe there are other theories as well, but these are the only two I’ve thought of.