ASMR is described as a pleasurable tingling that begins in the head and scalp, shimmies down the spine and relaxes the entire body. Maria — she asked that her last name be withheld for safety reasons; her videos have sometimes attracted unwanted attention — experiences ASMR, and her YouTube channel, GentleWhispering, melds her personal tingle-triggers with others suggested by her fans. The resulting videos have drawn more than 87 million views, making Maria the premier celebrity of a controversial but increasingly recognized phenomenon.
You can find ASMR videos in many genres on YouTube. Lately, though, there is a growing body of food-related ASMR. There are ASMR artists who tape themselves opening a bag of fast-food, making sure that the act of unwrapping is a loud, crinkly affair. That follows with chewing the food, the microphone so close, the audio so amped up, that even swallowing is audible.
1. Do you have different reactions depending on who is the source of the sound? For example, I have very distinctive reactions, i.e. if someone from my relatives does the mouth sounds, I get irritated and at times even angry. I even leave the kitchen if I hear my relatives making the sounds while eating. Purely biological, can’t explain it. The sounds are unpleasant for me. But if a random person or someone I barely know from an opposite sex does the mouth sounds, I can get ASMR or pleasurable feelings.
I, too, have a hair-trigger tear response to anything touching, which is displayed to me cinematically, and is nearly always accompanied by the tingles. I am touched by things that I think other people would find odd, however, like the concept of reincarnation, or psychic phenomena, or anything gently sexual and romantic. Most especially scenes like those in “The Blue Lagoon,” where the kids grow up, and discover each other as sexual beings, in innocence and freedom, tend to touch my heart most, and cause emotion and tears to well up.
When you listen to these videos that are meant for relaxation, you’ll hear quiet whispering and breathing, fabric on fabric, all noises that will activate this neurological response and help you to find relaxation and and get you to drift off to sleep. It allows you to feel safe and warm and tucked into bed, which allows us to disengage our worry and fear.
The first time I remember ASMR I was in pre-school and a girl who was normally not nice to me was kind to me. I think she tied my shoes for me. To this day, this is the strongest trigger. My Twitter name (I am the mom over our geeky pack) is a clue to why this did not happen all the time. I was not popular though well liked in my group of uncool kids. So when the popular kids or someone I held in high regard (teacher, etc) gave me attention that was above and beyond, my whole head would tingle.
A: People think it might be like a fetish community, almost. But it really is a relaxation technique and a community. There’s been a couple studies on it, actually. Basically, people who experience ASMR have their heart rate go down — they are physically relaxed — so it’s the opposite of sexual arousal. It is something that we think you have or don’t have. Some people say, “Oh, my gosh, this makes me want to punch somebody,” and that’s called misophonia. Sometimes some types of ASMR won’t work for some people, and that’s all right. I recommend trying one. There are so many kinds to check out.
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.
OH.MY.GOD. I just read an article in, of all places, the Daily Mail (I know, shame on me) which lead me to this. I have tried a few times to explain this sensation to people and they look at me like I’m deranged, so I stopped. And then I discover here that it’s a real ‘thing’, and then I discover someone whose trigger is exactly the same as mine! Other people touching things that belong to me! That’s it. It only happens then. The last time it happened was when my children were babies and people touched them. Before that it was things like my pencil case or books when I was at school. Then, when I was older, it was things like my make up bag. Weird. Anyway, I hear ya, and I’m so amused to have discovered that other people have it too.
So far there have been two scientific studies successfully published, both by researchers based in the UK. The first from Swansea University was published on PeerJ March 26th 2015 entitled ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) – A flow like mental state’ which concluded ‘We have provided the first investigation into the phenomenon of autonomic sensory meridian response (ASMR). ASMR can be induced, in those who are susceptible, by a fairly consistent set of triggers. Given the reported benefits of ASMR in improving mood and pain symptoms, we suggest that ASMR warrants further investigation as a potential therapeutic measure similar to that of meditation and mindfulness’
I relate to much of what has been said in this conversation thread. I remember as a child, young, maybe seven… my punishment for disobedience or back talking was to stand in the corner. The corner was made by the cold wall and the refrigerator. The refrigerator was old and would kick on often blowing warm air through the crack between it and the wall. I did not know why I got tingly but I loved it and remember asking if all my punishments could be to stand in the corner. It believed it was the difference of temperatures between the wall and the refrigerator motor that caused it. Now, as an adult, I still sit over heat vents with my cheek or arm rested against the wall. I wonder why sometimes it is so intense. I get the tingles that crawl all the way down to my toes and cause a mild jerk or convulsion that sets it off again. I have synesthesia and also wonder if that serves to increase the frequency or intensity of the feeling…
The story follows Tom More, a psychiatrist living in a dystopian future who develops a device called the Ontological Lapsometer that, when traced across the scalp of a patient, detects the neurochemical correlation to a range of disturbances. In the course of the novel, More admits that the 'mere application of his device' to a patient's body 'results in the partial relief of his symptoms'.