In a 2012 blog post, Steven Novella, an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine, compared ASMR to migraine headaches — “We know they exist as a syndrome primarily because many different people report the same constellation of symptoms and natural history,” he wrote — and theorized that ASMR could even be a type of “pleasurable” seizure.
This is Maria, a 28-year-old Russian expat in suburban Maryland, starring in a YouTube video that has been viewed more than 7 million times. Hundreds of thousands of Maria’s devotees return again and again to listen to her hushed whispers as she assumes simulated roles — librarian, hairstylist, masseuse — and performs simple motions: folding towels, blowing smoke from an incense burner, flipping through the pages of a magazine.
In the middle of the ASMR spectrum I have all sorts of triggers. A deep male voice reading Holy Scriptures. Definitely not as spiritual a response as the Cantor, but still pleasant, even so. A favorite trigger is good music, either played or sung. Usually it’s a voice that does it for me, more so than instruments. Depending on the type of song, lyrics and the melody/drums, music can trigger a wide range of ASMR types for me. Some are very much at the spiritual end, while others bring back the memory of ASMR events, and the memory itself triggers a mild repeat. Really good foods (eating or even smelling them) can trigger tingles in head and shoulders; while a head, back or foot massage can all be triggers, depending on the skill of the person.
Mockery is a problem for any child in the limelight – one of Jacob Daniel’s fellow ASMRtist United founders quit YouTube after being picked on at school. Kelly says there are rumours that one girl at school said she was “annoying”, but most people think her channel is “cool”. Yet Kelly isn’t just a famous ASMRtist – she is also a meme. On social media, people edit her videos into short clips and share them with relatable captions.
Because ASMR is such an individualistic experience, different triggers affect some people more than others. Not everyone experiences ASMR to the same intensity and the effects can differ from person to person. However, ASMR is most commonly described as a pleasurable "tingling" sensation that begins in your scalp and creeps its way down your neck and your back, sometimes spreading out to the limbs. Others describe it as "goosebumps on the brain" and "warm chills," a shivering feeling you might get if someone was gently tracing their finger down your spine. Some say it's like the pins and needles sensation when your foot falls asleep, but pleasurable instead of painful. These tingles are always accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of peaceful relaxation and euphoria; many people report feeling their anxiety slip away, and they often fall asleep afterword.
Sounds work ok, but I have always got the most (for lack of better word) intense asmr from touch. They don’t even have to touch me. When I was in 4-5 grade I would get it when someone I dont know well touched something close to me like my favorite stuffed animal or the eraser I use every day at school. Now I can just get lightly touched on the face and it will happen. I can just think about it and get it now.
I’m glad that it’s at least showing up for you occasionally. It certainly seems to affect people differently and it’s an incredibly strange, though wonderful, phenomenon. I don’t pretend to understand it fully myself, and haven’t done research on it other than to check if it’s harmful, which from what I’ve seen doesn’t seem to be an issue. My reactions seem to have gotten more intense lately, sometimes to the point of having to pause the video for a short while in order to calm it down a bit.
Having had enough not so good conditions (bipolar, ADD, panic attacks), it feels so good to have this one! Since ASMR seems to be triggered by so many things, I'm with the people who get tingly responses from certain types of touch (massage, scalp massage) and certain sounds (put me on on a boat or train and I'm in happyland). Strangely, whispering, tapping, folding laundry have no effect at all or are even annoying. Have also bought a few hypnosis CDs and they actually irritate the crap out of me and I hate guided meditation! But soft speaking voices are my main non-physical trigger. If I listen to certain presenters on Radio National Australia, This American Life etc, I can't drive because it's too hypnotic. Very blissful though :). For those who have the condition, you'll find your trigger even if it's not in the top 5.
However, the truly novel findings came from a second experiment, when 110 participants viewed ASMR videos while connected to biological feedback machinery. After watching the videos, the heart rates of people with ASMR slowed on average by more than three beats per minute. And their skin conductance levels—a measure of physiological arousal – were significantly increased compared to those in the non-ASMR group.
If the amazing feeling from having someone (or in a lesser way myself) tickle me lightly on my arm or the back of my neck, sort of drag their fingers or fingernails lightly across my arm/neck is ASMR, then yes. I also sometimes shiver and get goosebumps if someone’s brushing/playing with my hair… I don’t know if it’s ASMR though. It seems like just being ticklish, though it’s the most amazing feeling.
Can someone explain why this got rid of my migraine?? I have had a migraine for 2 days ( I get really bad chronic migraines – i have for my whole life ). I just recently discovered this ASMR thing, today actually. I watched the tapping/whispering ones and I felt these tingling sensations all over my body, mostly my head and arms, BUT holy heck my migraine is gone. I don’t understand! why?? It is a miracle if this works.
I experience both asmr and frisson so I am familiar with both. They are similar in that they both cause a tingling sensation. Asmr is triggered mainly by physical senses (sight, sound, sometimes smell) and produces a relaxing effect. Like you literally can fall asleep from it. Frisson is triggered by thought and emotion and produces an exciting effect.
Now, I need all the help I can get with fashion, but this video made my head buzz so hard I couldn't concentrate. I watched it three times, then went into the comments section and somebody had left a link to /r/asmr, a community of others that experience these relaxing head tingles in response to a wide array of stimuli. I was not alone. In fact, there seems to be quite a lot of us.
The ASMR community has grown online by the hundreds of thousands over the years so far worldwide and shows no sign of slowing down. As the culture of self awareness, mindfulness and complimentary therapies grow, ASMR is becoming very useful for so many. ASMR content on YouTube is becoming a genre all of its own and strong bonds are being formed between people all over the world. Watch this space for there will undoubtably be much more to come!
At the other end of the spectrum, I had a memory of a sexual experience that was such a strong trigger that for almost 15 years after the event, just thinking about that experience could trigger an actual orgasm with full body ASMR. (sorry if that’s TMI) (And don’t anyone be too jealous, I’m now old, gray, fat and long past those days in my life, but I’ve got the memories. LOL)
Bob Ross ALWAYS triggers this response (I have 15+ Joy of Painting episodes saved on my DVR right now). While all the other videos triggered my ASMR somewhat, the Rushka tea one had the most effect. I also like to watch people doing crafts (the sound of scissors cutting construction paper is amazing). Getting a massage or just watching someone get a massage (I can even read the description of spa treatments & have an ASMR response!) I love my hair to be played with too! As you probably know, the list can go on forever!!
In 2016 I became a qualified Sound Therapy practitioner through The Collage of Sound Healing in England. Then later a practitioner in Crystal and Himalayan Bowl treatments as well as Assemblage Point adjustment and Reiki. I wanted to understand better the effects of sound on the body and how I was possibly helping my viewers. These courses gave me a much deeper understanding of what I do on YouTube and the experience to go on and take ASMR back into the world where it started for me. I strongly believe the social aspect of nurturing one another should not be lost especially as we grow older. The internet should be a means for further connection, not stop us from experiencing it fully in person. It should be a tool and not a substitute.
I didn’t even know this had a name! I have always been able to induce the feeling by focusing my attention on the base of my skull and letting the energy run. I have always enjoyed the feeling, but experience it as voluntary and not cultivated by sensory/cognitive experiences. Is this strange or are other folks eliciting this feeling when desired as well?