The French word 'frisson' signifies a brief sensation usually reported as pleasurable and often expressed as an overwhelming emotional response to stimuli, such as a piece of music. Frisson often occurs simultaneously with piloerection, colloquially known as 'goosebumps', by which tiny muscles called arrector pili contract, causing body hair, particularly that on the limbs and back of the neck, to erect or 'stand on end'.
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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!!
The explanation behind this physiological reaction lies in the brain. "It's likely that the tingling is due to specific neurochemicals (like oxytocin and endorphins) being released during ASMR—and these neurochemicals are also inducing the deep feeling of relaxation," says Craig Richard, PhD, an ASMR researcher, professor at Shenandoah University in Virginia, and author of Brain Tingles. In a 2018 study published by Richard and his colleagues, they found that ASMR activated similar regions of the brain as those activated during affiliate behaviors, which includes interpersonal bonding (such as parent-infant bonding) along with grooming and care-giving behaviors that involve positive personal attention. These behaviors share similar triggers with ASMR, such as gentle touch, soft voices, focused attention, and a bond of trust.
Some ASMR video creators use binaural recording techniques to simulate the acoustics of a three-dimensional environment, reported to elicit in viewers and listeners the experience of being in close proximity to actor and vocalist. Binaural recordings are usually made using two microphones, just like stereo recordings. However, in binaural recordings the two microphones tend to be more specially designed to mimic ears on humans. In many cases, microphones are separated the same distance as ears are on humans, and microphones are surrounded by ear-shaped cups to get similar reverb as human ears.
I’m not really sure if I have ASMR or not – I literally discovered it was an actual thing a few minutes ago – but I am very sensitive to sounds. Certain chord progressions or note progressions in songs, and other sounds like people eating watermelon give me the tingling feeling described. But I also get the opposite. For some reason, certain sounds make me feel queasy and sick (like the sound of someone pulling a string through their fingers). Is this ASMR, or related? Or if it’s not, does anyone know what that is?
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 wonder if I have this ASMR thing too. The only thing that I don’t have in common like the rest, is audio. I only get this feeling, this “head-orgasm feeling,” when someone or something touches, like a kitten’s whiskers, a feather or someone’s hand, the side of my temples or near my ears. This feeling is very difficult to describe. When this happens I automatically close my eyes, I smile involuntarily and I get this tingling sensation all over my head. It’s a really good feeling too. Also, I’m not sure if it goes through the rest of my body like the rest of you, because I guess I’m feeling this sensation and I’m unaware of it. I remember when I was little I would get this feeling when I would play with a cat and they would head-bud my face and this feeling happened. I wasn’t sure what it was and was afraid that someone would see me making my face doing the “involuntarily closing my eyes and smiling” thing. So, I try to snap out of it as fast as I could… my question is, is this the same thing? Do I have ASMR?
The least sexual and most Spiritual ASMR I’ve ever had was when I was traveling in the Holy Land, and a man trained as a Jewish Cantor (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/what-is-a-cantor/) recited/sang a prayer in a Baha’i Temple. My entire body throbbed with the sound that poured out of that man’s soul My skin felt so tight I could have been a clothing size smaller, the tingles of deep joy coursed in whirls under my skin, my blood pounding through my veins. If you’ve ever watched videos of sand on top of speakers… it felt like that man’s voice was having that effect on my body, changing the very cell structure, just with the sound of his chanting. It was amazing. It was incredibly intense. And definitely spiritual.
Incidentally, I’m now wondering if my embarrassing tendency to well up at almost any expression of art or culture (meaning that I’ve had to perfect a whole range of distraction techniques to prevent my neighbours on the sofa/gallery/theatre/cinema from realising I’m silently blubbing away) is part of this phenomenon. Even a well placed advert, I’m ashamed to say, can set me off. It didn’t occur to me until I found out about the Tingles (sorry, hate the scientised term ASMR) that the tear jerk response might be related to my other sensations. Any thoughts on that, anyone?
Jacob Daniel is clearly a savvy child – although excitable and eccentric, he talks soberly about safety on YouTube, clapping his hands as he tells children to “be, be safe”. He tells kids to use fake names, access their email with VPNs, and avoid making custom Skype calls with viewers. For all his intelligence, however, Daniel is still a child. He and Prunkl show off a series of wigs they play with at home – he dons a purple one with red horns; Prunkl shows me her doll. They talk excitedly about the pranks they play on the public, wearing the wigs to order food in take-away shops.
“I don’t think enough is done,” Fleck says. “This little girl was wearing sweatshirts with her school’s name on them, you have the danger of being doxxed, people finding out where you are.” Thankfully, Fleck feels the ASMR community look out for each other. “It’s just a little difficult because other than reaching out to get YouTube to do something, we’re kind of powerless.”
Another unanswered question: why do some people experience ASMR while others don't? "The simplest answer is a genetic difference," says Richard. In the same way that some people dislike cilantro or have a high tolerance for alcohol, genetics could affect how sensitive someone is to the neurochemicals produced during ASMR. "The ability to experience ASMR could also be influenced by lifetime experiences, diet, medications, and many other factors," he says. "It's clear that researchers still have a lot to figure out."
I have definitely had this sensation many times from sexual activities, or leading up to them, as foreplay. Also while masturbating from about age 2 and up, instinctively using effleurage upon my own skin, as I comforted myself to help me sleep. I don’t see why anyone would be troubled if this phenomenon is associated with sexuality. It is undoubtedly sensual, and so is sex, so it is natural for there to be some overlap.
On 12 March 2012, Steven Novella, Director of General Neurology at the Yale School of Medicine, published a post about ASMR on his blog Neurologica. Regarding the question of whether ASMR is a real phenomeonon, Novella said "in this case, I don't think there is a definitive answer, but I am inclined to believe that it is. There are a number of people who seem to have independently experienced and described" it with "fairly specific details. In this way it's similar to migraine headaches – we know they exist as a syndrome primarily because many different people report the same constellation of symptoms and natural history." Novella tentatively posited the possibilities that ASMR might be either a type of pleasurable seizure, or another way to activate the "pleasure response". However, Novella drew attention to the lack of scientific investigation into ASMR, suggesting that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation technologies should be used to study the brains of people who experience ASMR in comparison to people who do not, as a way of beginning to seek scientific understanding and explanation of the phenomenon.
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.