But the phenomenon has nonetheless burst into the mainstream, thanks to mounting media coverage and a few high-profile references: “Saturday Night Live” alum Molly Shannon gushed to Conan O’Brien about her “head orgasms,” induced by the methodical touch of airport security pat-downs; novelist Andrea Seigel shared her experience with ASMR on the radio program “This American Life” last year; the “Dr. Oz” show has featured ASMR videos as a way to ease insomnia.
I would spend all Friday, Saturday drawing outlines with my 3 best friends, discussing art, colour and symmetry for hours, then spend all Saturday night bombing trains, painting together would activate it intensely, in the dark, spooky and exhilarating all at the same time, while four kids spent their weekends silently breaking the law to paint Top-to-Bottom Wholecars just for art’s sake)
These reports have precipitated comparison between ASMR and synesthesia – a condition characterised by the excitation of one sensory modality by stimuli that normally exclusively stimulates another, as when the hearing of a specific sound induces the visualization of a distinct color, a type of synesthesia called chromesthesia. Thereby, people with other types of synesthesia report for example 'seeing sounds' in the case of auditory-visual synesthesia, or 'tasting words' in the case of lexical-gustatory synesthesia.
ASMR's main draws, as Richard explained, are the feelings it can create. When a person hears whispering, crinkling, tapping, or other ASMR triggers, they experience tingling sensations throughout their body. But the physical sensations aren't the only reasons people watch ASMR content. A 2017 study found that 41% of respondents watch ASMR videos to help them fall asleep, while 59% watch to relax.
Oh! Everything you said resonates for me, Pet Richoria! I have specific songs that tingle me all to pieces, and these have always been my special favorites, which I would play again and again, and share with others, in hopes that they would experience something similar. Some are Pink Floyd’s “Echoes,” Led Zeppelin’s “Achilles’ Last Stand,” Radiohead’s “Subterranean Homesick Alien,” Tool’s “Jimmy,” St. Vincent’s “The Bed,” Beck’s “Lonesome Tears,’ and The Morning Benders’ ” Pleasure Sighs.” There are many, many more, though!
There is no solid data about ASMR, no published research studies — not yet. The term “ASMR” is nonclinical, coined in 2010 by a woman named Jennifer Allen who started an ASMR Facebook group and later became part of a team — along with Richard — that collected and analyzed anecdotal information about the sensation. Richard also notes the work of Bryson Lochte, a Dartmouth College undergrad who has used neuroimaging technology to study ASMR for his senior thesis but has not published his results.
I didn’t know there was a name for this! I experience the shivers whilst just sitting and using my imagination to draw white light into the top of my head and the sensation just shoots down my spine like bubbling tickles. Kinda cool to do it on command, but even more fun when it happens randomly through certain music, power tools, meditations, and someone else touching certain fabrics ~ for e few examples. Mostly only occurs when I am already relaxed though.
I have just found out about ASMR, and never knew there was an actual name for how I became so mesmerised by certain things. I don’t get tingles or anything physical, just get so entranced by the “thing” that nothing else matters, and I end up staring like a hypnotised fool at whatever the trigger has been! haha! Mostly it is aural, like accidental whispering (I don’t enjoy the deliberate whisper videos on Youtube), crinkling of packages (again, accidental, not deliberate), or sometimes it is visual, like someone quietly playing with their hair, or gently rummaging in their bag for something.
Like many corners of the internet, there’s also a sense of comradery in being outside the norm. According to the Instagram user who runs an chalk-eating ASMR repost account, this has helped build trust in the community. “We all know we are a little left of average in what we find stimulates our ASMR experience, so there’s solidarity and kinship as well," the user said.
What if you don’t NEED any triggers? I have been experiencing ASMR just by will since second grade. I can have it whenever I want it, hot or freezing weather, standing, sitting, running, resting, busy, doesn’t matter. I can just do it over and over and over again with very little meditating involved or sometimes even none, just need to focus and BOOM, the brain wave goes throughout my body and the tingling and such. I can even touch some people and they get that weird wonderful sense but very limited. Just recently I can get all my fingers to have tingling feelings (before was just back of my palm, but it’s advancing, but I’m a bit worried if this is good or bad for health..)… Anybody like me at all? I feel so alone in this world for decades… and my friends just think I’m weird and creepy when I perform it (always have goosebumps)
For me it’s tapping, whispering (the closer the better), hair brushing (directly on the mic, not just raking a brush through hair), and hypnosis (even if they’re only attempts or roleplay). Medical or other kinds of roleplay don’t seem to affect me at all and just come off as phony in my mind. It’s the sounds themselves, and their intensity at very close range, that hit me hardest. I don’t really care what’s being said. In fact I get just as much out of asmr in languages I don’t understand. Pretty sure French in and of itself is something of a trigger.
“There is a bit of culinary seduction or sensualized seduction in those videos, and some of our minds go there because they are young females,” Richard said. “I would not label them erotic ASMR, which is much more blatant. These are food ASMR. ASMR inherently has a strong tone of intimacy, so there is an aspect of connectivity associated with ASMR that can overlap into things like sensuality or sexualization, but they are different.”
In the first peer-reviewed article on ASMR, published in Perspectives in Biology in summer 2013, Nitin Ahuja, who was at the time of publication a medical resident at the University of Virginia, invited conjecture on whether the receipt of simulated medical attention might have some tangible therapeutic value for the recipient, comparing the purported positive outcome of clinical role play ASMR videos with the themes of the novel Love in the Ruins by author and physician Walker Percy, published in 1971.