A long time ago, I had this idea I would write a screenplay about a guy that rises to fame curing hiccups around the world. I deemed myself a shaman that had the powers to sniff them out, and exorcise the demons from the body. If I put on a good enough show, it really did cure people's hiccups because they believed it. It was a form of hypnosis really.
I can't say I understand a lot about the mechanism of hiccups or why they happen, but I did figure out that if you can distract someone from them, they go away. From Wikipedia:
"While numerous home remedies are offered, they mostly fall into three broad categories. These categories include purely psychosomatic cures centered around relaxation and distraction..."As people were leaving my friend Alex's holiday party last night, I noticed my tipsy friend had the hiccups, and I could tell they were the lethal kind that makes you feel like either you can't breathe or that you might puke. Since I didn't have the energy to put on the old hiccup-curing shaman act, I asked her to count down in sevens from 101, which she found really irritating. One, because I think she was paranoid that she wasn't good at math (distraction #1), and two, that she was a bit annoyed that I was forcing the issue so much (distraction #2).
So with some more coaxing, we did it together: "ninety....four....eighty...seven..." She was so self-conscious and distracted that by the time she got to seventy three, they were gone. Felt good that I was able to help, but I think she was still mad that I made her do math on a Saturday night...go figure...
Upon a little more research, I found an evolutionary theory of hiccups. Amphibians have a specific motor respiratory mechanism that has them gulp air and water, which basically looks like a human hiccup. So this respiration reflex is an antecedent to our modern, mammalian version of breathing. This would explain why infants have the hiccups so frequently - they haven't fully developed the normal breathing mechanism, and are still enacting a phylogenetically earlier respiratory characteristic.
It seems we are on the precipice of learning how much willful control we can have over what we ordinarily consider our "automatic" physiology. The process of how to manipulate physical processes is obviously still sloppy, but I have a feeling new and proven techniques are going to explode into pop culture. Curing hiccups is only the beginning my friends...
[Another thing to consider - why is it so fun to watch people with hiccups?]
Especially Southern Meteorologists: