Over the past few years, videos like this have exploded in popularity on the platform. Millions are tuning in to watch strangers whisper into their microphones, tap their fingernails, fold napkins, or roleplay as a comforting nurse—all to help viewers experience a tingling, relaxing feeling known as autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR. It may seem bizarre and uncomfortably intimate and maybe even a little creepy the first time you watch an ASMR video, but the creators behind these videos have a truly benevolent intent: to help their views relax, fall asleep, and find relief from the stress of their everyday lives.
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.
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…
It now drives an entire industry on YouTube, where video artists rack up millions of views filming an array of audio and visual triggers for their viewers: They whisper, tap their fingers, flip through pages of a book, play with slime, slurp up noodles, make “mouth sounds” and even role-play scenarios like a spa visit or a doctor’s appointment — anything to evoke the sensation.
I can… sort of do this… I can (and I’m borrowing a bit the words of someone above in the comments who’s much better at description than I) send a wave of tingles or energy, I guess, down my spine and my legs a little. It sometimes makes my muscles twitch involuntarily and it feels good… I can’t do it in my head, it starts in my shoulders and sides, I don’t get goosebumps (but then the strongest feeling is in my lower back) and can’t do it in my arms, but it feels like tingles. I haven’t tried seeing if anyone else can feel it (weird that that works… is it like… static electricity or something? Come to think of it, it does feel sort of like electricity…) but I will, though as I can’t spread it to my hands I doubt it will work.
An article titled "An examination of the default mode network in individuals with autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)" by Stephen D. Smith, Beverley Katherine Fredborg, and Jennifer Kornelsen, looked at the default mode network (DMN) in individuals with ASMR. The study, which used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), concluded that there were significant differences in the DMN of individuals who have ASMR as compared to a control group without ASMR.
Overall, the research “suggests there are emotional and physiological benefits” to watching ASMR for those who experience it, says Poerio. However there is still no hard data on how many people actually experience the sensation. Because previous studies have relied on volunteers rather than representative samples of the general population, she says, the studies can't say how common—or rare—ASMR truly is.
I am so pleased to see posts from people pertaining to ASMR. I didn’t even know it had a name until this year. I’ve had ASMR since I can remember and when I still had it as an adult, I thought I was some kind of freak. I wouldn’t dare speak about it to anyone, even my husband. I have various triggers and for me ASMR is not sexual. The tingles don’t always happen but when they do it’s a wonderful peaceful feeling that I want to go on and on.
I’m a prematurely retired, disabled, UCLA med school trained pediatrician, due to a stroke and for me ASMR occurs only with music, but just what I call exquisite(level) music. Interestingly before my love for science, my first love was music, as an alto, tenor, and baritone sax player as a child. My experience is that it always is full body, at the onset, and sometimes is accompanied by a slight body warmth effect. It is always a very pleasant sensation, and does not always occur with these level of songs. Not maybe related, but I’ve become a sensation at party type celebrations, as people are amazed at my dancing skills without my quad cane, without much use of my limited right side of my body. They look at me in a crazed way when I tell them I really don’t consider it dancing, in the strictest sense, but it’s like the music and I are symbiotic, and I become the music so that my body just starts spontaneously moving in such a way they would not believe possible, with much improved balance, as people start to hoot, holler, clap and recording with their smart phones. I’m not putting on a show, just enjoying music at the highest level I know. I have always loved music intensely. Initially, I did what I call chair dancing, all upper body, for quite some time, after my stroke.
I was not a loser or social outcast. I had many friends but just preferred sci-fi and geeky interests to school politics. I had loving parents. I have had MANY positive interactions and attention. So I am still curious why certain interactions that seem identical will cause it and others wont. I have searched for years trying to understand the difference.
Allen verified in a 2016 interview that she purposely selected these terms because they were more objective, comfortable, and clinical than alternative terms for the sensation. Allen explained she selected the word meridian to replace the word orgasm due to its meaning of point or period of greatest prosperity.[clarification needed]