Austrian writer Clemens J. Setz suggests that a passage from the novel Mrs. Dalloway authored by Virginia Woolf and published in 1925, describes something distinctly comparable. In the passage from Mrs. Dalloway cited by Setz, a nursemaid speaks to the man who is her patient 'deeply, softly, like a mellow organ, but with a roughness in her voice like a grasshopper's, which rasped his spine deliciously and sent running up into his brain waves of sound'.
Maria says that she hears from subscribers, including doctors and psychologists, who are excited by the ASMR research. But mostly, she gets thank-you notes — from people with anxiety or sleep disorders, from overwhelmed college students struggling through exam week, from military veterans who tell her that her videos offer a sense of calm that they can’t find elsewhere.
Can ASMR be triggered by a completely internal stimulus? I get this tingling in my scalp and cheeks, then like a wave of warm fuzzy that washes through my body. It sounds very similar to what ASMR is described as, but it happens to me when I daydream about certain things. It happened to me more as a child than as an adult, in fact it has probably been several years since I had an experience until today, which led to me googling it. My trigger is visualizing/ daydreaming about somewhat exciting things gone perfect, a perfect lap on the motocross track, flying high G maneuvers, and most recently navigating my sailboat through some rough waters. I hate to admit to this because I don’t want to sound egotistical, but it doesn’t seem to be the subject of the daydream that brings about the ASMR like experience, but the thought of someone giving me recognition for my accomplishment that actually triggers it. Also, once I’ve had a response from a daydream about a particular experience, I can’t simply revisit the same daydream and have it trigger another experience. I’m 40, and have always experienced this, but I never knew how to explain it or if it were normal or not, so I’ve never even tried talking about this before.
While I will admit that ASMR (and sleep) is definitely the kind of thing that admits of “more” and “less” descriptors, I’m still not convinced that it is “intensity” that is the proper target of the “more” and “less” (btw, do you see what I mean? “intense” by itself isn’t a term of comparison. You need to introduce “more” and “less” for this… but more and less what?). However, I’ll also admit that I’m at a loss to suggest a better term. Maybe this is the kind of thing that merits it’s own category, and eventually we’ll just say that something is more or less ASMR… doesn’t quite have the same ring to it though…
Not everybody experiences ASMR, so it could be you fall into this group. Alternatively your triggers might simply be more obscure. If you can’t find anything that triggers the ASMR sensation for you, the only other way (that I know of) to experience the sensation is with a head massaging tool called the orgasmatron. Personally this produces tingles that are much more intense than any other ASMR trigger for me. It is also a great way to explain the ASMR sensation to other people. They’re really cheap too.
“People asked for really weird things,” she explains, “like tapping on a TV or playing with string.” For instance, one stranger paid Kelly $50 (about £38) to film herself eating cookies and milk. In an 11-minute video, Kelly tapped on the biscuits with her vibrant pink fingernails before biting into them and slurping them down with a jar of milk. More than 300,000 people watched that video.
I’ve always had this triggered by intense personal attention on either me or something I’ve done. In particular, having someone stare intently at something I’ve written or drawn on paper (or imagining/remembering that type of incident) triggers it very consistently. Intensely focused photography of myself or a body part (not sexual) also is very effective. I was recently watching a sporting event and noticing the camera tracking the athletes – just imagining how the athlete would feel with this non-stop camera attention was also a trigger. Dentists don’t really do it for me, but regular checkups with any sort of focused attention on any body part works. There’s something about the very concept of another person finding either me or my ideas/thoughts interesting enough to examine at length. A glance is just not enough. It’s kinda funny but this has triggered like a dozen times just while writing this comment out and thinking about these things!
Generally speaking, ASMR content creators are essentially self taught YouTubers who have experienced this feeling all of their lives just like the viewers. Those that have been creating content for many years have literally been developing these techniques since they started. Working with the early childhood memories of triggers, adapting these for a video setting, trying out new ideas, developing those seen done by fellow content creators, viewer suggestions and feedback. Personally it’s been an interesting journey with trials, errors and successes to develop the skills I have now and there is still a way to go with more ideas to explore. Not just in video format but live and in person sessions.
Replies to this post indicated that a significant number of other people had experienced the sensation which "okaywhatever" described - also in response to witnessing mundane events. The interchanges precipitated the formation of a number of web-based locations intended to facilitate further discussion and analysis of the phenomenon for which there were plentiful anecdotal accounts, yet no consensus-agreed name nor any scientific data or explanation.